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Ichiro Ozawa | KYODO
Ichiro Ozawa | KYODO

In a surprising turn of events, Ichiro Ozawa, arguably Japan’s most consequential and divisive politician of recent decades, failed to win a seat in his electoral district for the first time in his more-than-half-century career in Sunday’s general election.

He fell short in the Iwate No. 3 district against Takashi Fujiwara from the Liberal Democratic Party, according to media outlets.

Ozawa, 79, who ran under the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s banner, still won a seat through the country’s proportional representation system, but his loss in the electoral district suggests his influence has significantly waned in recent years.

Reformer, kingmaker, shadow shogun, destroyer — Ozawa, known as a skilled strategist and political operator, has amassed a long list of nicknames over the years.

He started his political career in 1969 by winning a Lower House seat as a Liberal Democratic Party member. He became LDP secretary general, the party’s No. 2 position, at the age of 47 but left the party in 1993 and was instrumental in ousting the LDP from power for the first time since it was established in 1955.

Since then, Ozawa has been involved in establishing parties including the Democratic Party of Japan. As one of its top executives, Ozawa played a major role in the DPJ’s historic victory in the 2009 general election, once again wresting power from the LDP-led government.

But Ozawa bolted from the DPJ with his close allies in 2012 and went on to launch new parties, all of which have failed to make a mark.

Because he has eventually dissolved or wrecked many parties that he was involved with, Ozawa has been nicknamed the “destroyer.”

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