08/26/2011, 00.00
JAPAN
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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announces resignation

He will leave the post of party leader and prime minister of Japan. The announcement this morning during a meeting of the DPJ. His successor should be appointed on 29 August. Kan has been heavily criticized on several fronts from the nuclear disaster to the financial crisis.
Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has announced his resignation from the post of party leader, paving the way for the appointment of the nation’s sixth Prime Minister in just five years. He has been heavily criticized on several fronts, including not to having shown a strong and decisive leadership in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of 11 March. The earthquake also generated a powerful tsunami that hit the east coast damaging the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, which was followed by the release of atomic material.

In June, Naoto Kan had promised to resign if the Parliament passed three major laws. He made the announcement official this morning, during a meeting of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ, currently in government) transmitted by the media across the country. In the late afternoon he is due to also hold a press conference.

Japan’s TV NHK quoted the Prime Minister as saying: "as promised on June 2, I present my resignation as head of the DPJ." On 29 August, the DJP will choose a successor to Naoto Kan, who is likely to be party leader and also the new head of government.

The resignation has not surprised the public, prepared for such an eventuality. Recently, the Prime Minister had come under attack within his own party and did not have the necessary strength to pass some laws on taxation. The Prime Minister will have the task of facing the greatest constructive effort - economic and financial - since the end of the Second World War and of resolving the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, where the reactor continues to release radioactive material.

Seiji Maehara, the current foreign minister, seems the favourite to succeed, but the decision will be up to the Diet which will meet on Monday. Other possible candidates are the Minister of Finance Yoshihiko Noda, Trade Minister Banri Kaieda or the Minister of Agriculture Michihiko Kano.

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