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Wataru Takeshita, who heads a major faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Thursday he will retire from politics for health reasons, ruling him out of the next House of Representatives election set to be held by this fall.

Wataru Takeshita, former chair of the LDP General Council | KYODO
Wataru Takeshita, former chair of the LDP General Council | KYODO

The announcement comes as the 74-year-old former chair of the LDP General Council undergoes treatment after revealing an esophageal cancer diagnosis in 2019. He returned to work the following November but has been absent from faction meetings since May.

“Being afflicted with a disease I am losing my physical and mental power, and am in a condition in which I cannot confidently work for the people,” Takeshita said in a statement.

Takeshita holds a seat in Shimane Prefecture’s No. 2 district. The statement was read by Tokuyasu Itohara, secretary general of the LDP’s local chapter, as Takeshita is unable to speak due to his condition, according to Itohara.

Takeshita started his career as a reporter at NHK, and became a secretary of his elder brother, former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, in 1985.

Takeshita was elected seven times to the Shimane seat previously held by his brother, the first time in the Lower House election in 2000. He has held key posts in the government and the party, including the position of reconstruction minister as well as the LDP’s Diet affairs chief.

Members of his faction include Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Taimei Yamaguchi, the LDP’s election strategy chief.

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