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Japan PM resigns amid public dismay

By Tomoko A. Hosaka

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:17 p.m. HST, Aug 25, 2011


TOKYO >> Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced Friday he was resigning after almost 15 months in office amid plunging approval ratings over his government's handling of the tsunami disaster and nuclear crisis.

In a nationally televised speech, Kan said he was stepping down as chief of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, effectively ending his tenure as leader of the country. The decision was widely expected because in June, Kan had promised to quit once lawmakers passed three key pieces of legislation. The final two bills cleared the parliament earlier Friday.

The Democrats will vote Monday for a new leader, who will almost certainly become Japan's next prime minister — the sixth since 2006.

Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara is viewed as the front-runner to replace him. Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Trade Minister Banri Kaieda are also viewed as contenders.

Looking back on his year and three months in office, Kan said he did all he could given difficulties he faced, including the disasters and a major election defeat in upper house elections last summer that left the parliament in gridlock.

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

The 64-year-old Kan has seen his approval ratings tumble amid a perceived lack of leadership after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis. Survivors complain about slow recovery efforts, and radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has spread into the air, water and food supply.

Political infighting between the ruling and opposition parties also have discouraged the public. Recent polls show that his public support has fallen under 20 percent.

Japan's new leader will take over a heavy load of tasks: rebuildling the country from the triple disasters, tackling a surging yen that is undermining the export-led economy and mapping out a new energy policy that is less reliant to nuclear power.

Kan's successor will also need to restore confidence in Japan's alliance with the U.S. Tokyo recently canceled Kan's U.S. visit for talks with President Barack Obama, expected in early September, due to the political uncertainty.

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IWAKUNI wrote:
If only we could fire our Presidents (Obama) and Governors (Gnome Neil) as quicky and as often as the Japanese boot their PMs.
on August 26,2011 | 01:34AM
droid wrote:
It is true in 235 years, we have impeached only two presidents — both who were exonerated at trial. But we can get rid of Neil, if the Hawaii State legislature would pass a gubernatorial recall law. Too bad Democrat loyalty eliminates any possibility that idea will come to fruition in the near future.
on August 26,2011 | 02:40AM
IWAKUNI wrote:
All safe bets are that Hawaii's legislature will remain mindlessly Democrat for at least another generation, but that could change depending on how bad The Gnome does, how much further damage Obama can inflict and the degree to which locals are ready to recognize that this is a new day, new age and an era in need of REAL representation--not mob-affiliated, union-controlled political posturing. I mean, look at what the voters did to Charles Djou! We had the chance to keep a moderate, intelligent Republican Representative, a virtual rockstar in the party and a well-respected newcomer who was promised a prime spot on the House Appropriations Committee while the GOP controlled that wing of Congress, and Hawaii decided to kick him out in order to heed Godfather Inouye's orders so that the old man could shape the Senate races and we're now left with two ABSOLUTELY USELESS House Reps who do NOTHING and are virtually powerless in the GOP-run arena. And they are absolutely useless, or did you miss the fact that they couldn't even secure funding for our East-West Center? Oh yes, they had to cry to Godfather Dan to take over their duties and try to find the money, but guess what? The Godfather won't live forever! Use your heads, Hawaii, and send Charles Djou back to Congress and back to putting Hawaii first.
on August 26,2011 | 03:56AM
EyeKea wrote:
The Democrats will rule as long as the people continue to have the attitude of asking NOT what they can do for THEIR country, but what the COUNTRY cand do for THEM. the Dems are all about BIG government that sucks BIG taxes from the hard working people that supports our country so that the BIG government can SUPPORT the people by giving them OUR hard earned money! The amount of people relying on our government to suppor them is disproportioned to the number of people who work for a living and pay taxes. If there are more jobs for people, less would be depending on government support. Healthy businesses creates more jobs and with more people working, and less dependency on the government helps lower our government spending. Working people with job security and successful businesses also contributes to non-profit organizations who in turn help those in need, again, relieving the strain on our government's spending. This why we should support the Republicans. They are not the "evil" ones as they are sometimes cast as by the Dems. They just have another way of running a government. They are generally conservative (with our money) and believe that supporting businesses will uptimately and for a longer term, create jobs and better job security. The Republicans believe that by providing a venue for people to suppor themselves and their families, the government can spend less and reduce itself to better proportions. It is time for the people to stop asking what the country can do for them, it's time for a SUSTAINABLE GOVERNMENT, not one that is destined to BURN ITSELF OUT.
on August 26,2011 | 07:07AM
mitt_grund wrote:
The earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor disasters served up a triple whammy that showed the vaunted Japanese techno/industrial machine and government bureaucracy unable to cope. It was apparent to anyone with good observation skills that the government was barely able to get aid to the affected areas, let alone respond to the nuclear reactor disaster. No different than the highly political and technology-ridden environment we have here in the U.S. Remember Hurricane Katrina and our reaction to 9/11? U.S. still hasn't rebuilt infrastructure in New Orleans back to pre-Katrina, and we went off-track and went after Saddam, when it should have been the Saudi Arabian terrorists that made up the base of Al-Quaida. If we were to get a triple whammy like that - the hurricane hitting the East Coast, nuclear reactors defibrillating, and whatever else -- maybe the destruction of Wall Street by hurricane winds, and the blinking out of the networked electrical utilities along the East Coast, we would have a similar disaster.
on August 26,2011 | 08:27PM
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