Kan to stand down as prime minister


Naoto Kan

TOKYO (majirox news) — Prime Minister Naoto Kan kept his word to stand down upon passage through the Diet of a series of bills related to recovery from the March 11 disasters when he resigned as leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on Aug. 26.

Kan’s replacement as DPJ president will be selected in a party vote on Monday, with the winner certain to be voted in as prime minister in a Diet session the following day.

Kan took over a party racked with in-fighting that led to a massive House of Councilors election defeat in the summer of 2010, then had to deal with the disasters, including the increasingly worrisome Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown crisis and a yen surging in value, making an export-led economic recovery less likely than ever.

“Under severe circumstances, I’ve done everything I could do,” he said. “Now I would like to see you choose someone respectable as a new prime minister.”

Kan has been severely criticized for his handling of disasters and borne the brunt of widespread public wrath at a government that has been less than forthcoming with honest appraisals of the situation in Fukushima. He tried to take the offensive by pledging Japan would reduce its dependence on nuclear power, but the popular policy did little to lift the ratings of his Cabinet, which fell to a low of just 15% in polls this week.

Kan’s resignation means Japan will get its sixth prime minister in the past five years, following Junichiro Koizumi, Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda, Taro Aso and Yukio Hatoyama.

Kan’s replacement appears likely to be a race between former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

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