Japan PM says he will step down with conditions


Prime Minister Naoto Kan

TOKYO (majirox news) — TOKYO (majirox news) — Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Aug.10 that when specific conditions are met he will step down. Following his resignation, a new leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will be elected at the end of Aug.

The Fixed Standard Price Law for Renewable Energy and the Special Bond Bill stipulate that Kan must resign before the end of parliament’s session on August 31. These bills have the consensus of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, (DPJ) the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its partner the New Komeito Party.

The Special Bond Bill, which will enable the Japanese government to issue debt-covering bonds in fiscal year 2011, passed in the House of Representatives on Aug. 11 and will be enacted on Aug. 24.

The Fixed Standard Price Law bill is expected to pass on Aug. 19, said LDP Deputy Chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee Tsutomu Sato at a news conference at Tokyo on Aug. 11. The bill creates a legal obligation for power companies to buy all their electricity produced from renewable sources such as wind and solar power at a fixed price. The plan would continue the current system, whereby companies purchase surplus energy from households running on home solar power systems.

The LDP and the DPJ critics within Kan’s party say that his decision to resign before September is good news for Japanese foreign affairs. Japan has been in the state of a “Diplomatic Vacuum,” so making important agreements has been difficult while most politicians and the Japanese public wait for Kan’s resignation.

In fact, support for the Prime Minister’s Cabinet is currently at a mere 18%, which is a fall of six percentage points from the already low rating of 22% in July, according to a Yomiuri newspaper poll on Aug. 8. Almost 70% of those surveyed want Kan to resign either immediately (32%) or by the end of the current Diet session, which finishes this month (36%).

Prior to the House of Representative Budget Committee meeting on Aug. 8, Masahiko Koumura, a LDP member, said that foreign affairs have been stalled due to Kan’s refusal to resign. Other LDP member agreed with Koumura’s assessment. They said that the economic caucus with China, which was originally scheduled in August, had been postponed because of Japan’s political instability. The South Korean president’s official visit to the country in fall has been on hold as well, reported in Hokkaido Shimbun. Some of the challenges that the new Japanese prime minister will face are to lead the nation out of its diplomatic void and restore trusts from other nations.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government is currently making arrangements with the United States to hold a meeting between the new Japanese prime minister and U.S. President Barack Obama during the United Nations General Assembly in late September. However, the meeting is not considered an official visit and will not include a joint statement.

Important events await the new Japanese prime minister such as the G20 Summit in France and the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in November.


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