News / Asia

Japanese Prime Minister Clings to Office

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan gestures upon his arrival for a cabinet meeting on environment and energy at Kan's official residence in Tokyo, June 22, 2011
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan gestures upon his arrival for a cabinet meeting on environment and energy at Kan's official residence in Tokyo, June 22, 2011

Japan's governing party pushed through an extension of the current Parliamentary session by 70 days, despite the objections of the opposition. The move came as Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to soon announce he will step down after the approval of several critical budget bills. They are, in part, meant to help Japan recover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which killed about 20,000 people, left tens of thousands homeless and triggered the meltdown of several nuclear reactors.

It is not a matter of if, but when Japan's prime minister will resign. Naoto Kan has made clear he intends to step aside but has given no precise indication publicly of when he is going to quit.

Some top officials in his own party, the Democrats, have been pressuring him in recent days to say precisely when he is going to resign. That is seen as critical for avoiding a legislative deadlock.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says the Democrats have agreed to extend the current Parliamentary session, which was due to end Wednesday, by 70 days.

Edano says Kan will preside over the passage of a second extra budget for the current fiscal year that is aimed at helping those affected by the March 11 natural disaster. But Edano was more vague when speaking about whether the prime minister would be around for a third budget extension that will require parliamentary approval after the end of August.

Some lawmakers within his own party characterize Kan as stubbornly attempting to stay in power long enough to also ensure legislative approval of a bill to promote renewable energy. Opposition politicians say the prime minister should not use the energy bill as a bargaining chip for the timing of his resignation.

Kan was already in deep political jeopardy when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck on March 11, triggering a devastating tsunami along Japan's northeastern coast. At that time, it was expected that his resignation announcement would come within days. The tragedy brought politics to a brief pause, but the prime minister was soon back under fire for his perceived poor handling of the crisis.

Kan survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament earlier this month after promising he would hand over power to a younger generation. He then signaled he wanted to stay on the job until August.

Democratic Party sources say that former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara is the apparent favorite among party leaders to succeed Kan. However, Maehara resigned in March over a political donation scandal, giving rise to criticism that it is too soon for his political rehabilitation.

Other potential successors include Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano.

Whoever replaces Kan would become Japan's sixth prime minister in five years.

The political instability is seen as hampering Japan's economic recovery - exacerbated by the March 11 natural disaster which also precipitated what will be a very costly cleanup from reactor meltdowns at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture.

The frequent changes of leadership are also viewed as complicating Japan's relations with the United States. The two countries are re-evaluating their 60-year-long military relationship. The core controversial issue is a plan to shift some U.S. Marines away from a
congested part of Okinawa.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid