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Suzuki, known for strong Russia ties, wins 1st Diet seat in 9 yrs

  • July 21, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 11:42 p.m.
  • English Press

SAPPORO – Muneo Suzuki, a veteran politician known for his close ties with Russia, won a seat in Sunday’s House of Councillors election, returning to Japan’s parliament for the first time since being forced to leave the Diet due to the finalization of a conviction in 2010.

 

Suzuki, leader of the New Party Daichi, a political group operating mainly in Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, vowed to supporters at his office in Sapporo to work toward resolving Tokyo’s long-stalled territorial dispute with Moscow.

 

He is seen as still having some influence on Japan-Russia affairs, often meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the dispute over four Russian-controlled islands off Hokkaido that are claimed by Japan.

 

“My heart is too full for words,” the 71-year-old said. “During campaigning, I felt people are counting on me to resolve the territorial issue.”

 

“I will break a sweat to resolve the issue as early as possible,” he said as he celebrated his victory in tears with his daughter and LDP House of Representatives lawmaker Takako Suzuki.

Suzuki ran for the proportional representation list of the Japan Innovation Party as the Osaka-based group aims to expand its base beyond that region. He decided to run after undergoing esophagus cancer surgery in May.

 

Suzuki, who used to wield considerable power in the territorial dispute talks, lost his lower house seat in September 2010 following the finalization of his conviction for bribery and other offenses. He had his civil rights suspended until April 2017.

 

He ran in the lower house election for the New Party Daichi in October 2017 but failed to win a seat.

 

After winning his first House of Representatives seat on the LDP’s ticket in 1983, Suzukiwas tapped as chief of the Hokkaido Development Agency and the Okinawa Development Agency in 1997, his first Cabinet post.

 

He then served as deputy chief Cabinet secretary from 1998 to 1999. He was elected eight times to the lower house.

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