An 89-year-old town assembly member in northeastern Japan has resigned after serving for nearly 58 years, the longest in Japan for a town or village assembly member, according to the council secretariat and a national body of local legislature heads.
Hitoshi Tanaka, a male assembly member in Shikama town, Miyagi Prefecture, stepped down Monday due to "personal reasons" including concerns about his health, 26 months before his present four-year term expires, the assembly secretariat said.
(Shikama Village website)
Tanaka was first elected in 1959 as an assembly member of Shikama village and kept his seat until resigning in 1991 to run in a mayoral election. After losing in the race, he came back to the assembly the following year.
He also served as a chairman of the assembly for more than 14 years in total, according to the secretariat. Shikama, which was upgraded from a village to a town in 1978, now has a population of about 7,000.
Tanaka recently skipped some assembly sessions. "He probably wanted to continue serving as an assembly member, but decided to resign in light of worries expressed by various people around him about his age and poor health," one of his family members said.
According to the National Association Chairmen of Town and Village Assemblies, Chieo Hamaguchi, 90, became the longest-serving incumbent town or village assembly member in Japan following Tanaka's resignation.
Hamaguchi has been serving for 50 years in the town of Yasuda in Kochi Prefecture, western Japan.