• Kyodo, Staff Report

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Former Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka has died of cancer, people close to him said Saturday. He was 79.

A native of Kagoshima, Yasuoka served as justice minister in 2000 and again in 2008. He died at a Tokyo hospital Friday afternoon.

Yasuoka was a lawyer before being elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in 1972. He served 13 terms in the Lower House before he retired from politics in 2017 to be treated for pancreatic cancer.

The lawyer-turned-politician also served as chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s constitutional revision panel, becoming a key figure in pushing forward Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to revise the Constitution.

He also held other senior positions within the ruling LDP and the Lower House relating to the revision of the country’s Constitution.

He also strived to introduce a lay judge system in Japan. The first court session attended by lay judges took place a decade ago in 2009.

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