TOKYO — Former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, 71, who held his seat in Parliament through the turmoil of being arrested and convicted of accepting a $1.8-million bribe and after suffering a stroke, announced Saturday through his adopted son-in-law that he is retiring from politics.
Naoki Tanaka, himself a member of Parliament, told Tanaka's supporters in Niigata prefecture (state) that their mentor will not run in the next lower-house election.
Although the stroke in February, 1985, ended the one-time political kingmaker's clout--not once has he appeared in public since--the retirement announcement stirred a flurry of comment from politicians and business leaders. The media treated the news in banner headlines, almost as if it were an obituary.
Admirers and critics both proclaimed it the end of an era in Japanese politics.
"Recalling his unparalleled dynamism, it makes me feel lonely," said Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, whose own mentor, the late Prime Minister Takeo Miki, permitted authorities to arrest Tanaka in 1976.