Friday, August 26, 2011

Kan steps down as Japan's premier

Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:51AM GMT
Naoto Kan announces his resignation as president of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), effectively ending his tenure as Japanese leader on August 26, 2011.
Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan has stepped down amid plunging approval ratings over his government's handling of the nuclear crisis that followed the March 11 quake and tsunami.

"I resign as the (party) president effective today," Kan told senior party officials, quoted by AFP on Friday.

The expected announcement was made after the parliament passed into law two key bills. Kan had set the passage of these bills as conditions for his departure.

The first bill was on promoting the use of renewable energy and the other on issuing deficit-covering bonds.

Kan, in office for only 15 months, has been criticized for his handling of the nuclear crisis which erupted after the March 11 twin disasters.

The outgoing premier's approval ratings had fallen in recent months due to what critics have described as his little grasp of foreign, domestic and economic affairs. Recent polls show that his public support has plummeted to below 20 percent.

"Under the severe circumstances, I feel I've done everything that I had to do. Now I would like to see you choose someone respectable as a new prime minister," Kan said.

The Democratic Party will vote on August 29 for a new leader who is set to become the Asian country's sixth prime minister since 2006.

The hopefuls include former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and the present Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Noda said on Friday he is ready to take the lead in national politics.



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