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Japan's ex-lower house speaker Takahiro Yokomichi dies at 82

Former Hokkaido governor served under short-lived Democratic Party government

Takahiro Yokomichi was speaker of the lower house while the Democratic Party was in power from 2009 to 2012.

SAPPORO (Kyodo) -- Takahiro Yokomichi, a former speaker of Japan's House of Representatives who once served as governor of Hokkaido, has died of bile duct cancer, an opposition party source said Monday. He was 82.

Yokomichi, a native of Hokkaido, contributed to the founding of the short-lived opposition Democratic Party in 2016 and served a total of 12 terms in the lower house, as well as three terms as governor of the country's northernmost prefecture from 1983.

He died Thursday in a hospital in Tokyo, according to the source within the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

The lawyer-turned-politician served as deputy leader of the formerly main opposition Democratic Party of Japan and was speaker of the lower house while the party was in power from 2009 to 2012.

Yokomichi won his first election for the House of Representatives in 1969, and after his stint as Hokkaido governor, returned to the lower house in October 1996.

In the Democratic Party, the forerunner of the present-day Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, he served as its supreme adviser. He did not seek re-election in the general election in October 2017.

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