Wataru Takeshita, who headed a major faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, died at age 74, NHK reported Saturday.

Takeshita died Friday at his home in Tokyo, the public broadcaster said, quoting unidentified sources.

The former chair of the LDP General Council had been undergoing treatment after revealing in 2019 he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He returned to work the following November but announced in July that he was retiring from politics for health reasons, ruling him out of the House of Representatives election to be held this fall.

Wataru Takeshita | KYODO
Wataru Takeshita | KYODO

“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 at the time.

Takeshita started his career as a reporter at NHK and later became a secretary for his elder brother, Noboru Takeshita, in 1985. Noboru Takeshita served as prime minister from 1987 until 1989.

The younger Takeshita was elected seven times to the Shimane seat previously held by his brother, winning for the first time 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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