Japan PM under fire over resignation conditions

TOKYO — Japan’s embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan came under fresh pressure Tuesday to resign after he set conditions for his departure and created two new cabinet posts in response to March disasters.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 28 Jun 2011, 1:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:45 PM

Newspaper editorials blasted Kan’s actions as confusing, ineffective or a self-serving bid to prolong his time in office four weeks after he survived a no-confidence motion by promising to step down at an unspecified date.

Kan’s actions were also criticised by members of his own party.

‘We should not let the political vacuum and the policy-making stalemate prolong any longer,’ the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun said. ‘We again demand his early resignation.’

Kan said he would only step down on condition that a second post-quake reconstruction budget, funding bills and legislation to promote renewable energy are passed first in a parliamentary session extended to August.

‘The premier still did not specify the date. He effectively declared he would stay on beyond September if the bills are not passed by then when the current session of parliament ends,’ said the conservative Sankei Shimbun.

Kan has faced criticism for his response to the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, amid anger at his handling of the ensuing nuclear crisis and slow progress in helping victims of the disasters.

On Monday he created two ministerial jobs to deal with the accident at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant and with post-disaster reconstruction.

They were taken by members of Kan’s centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), who had been familiar with the roles in different government posts.

DPJ executives, including secretary-general Katsuya Okada, have advised Kan to leave office by the end of August to seek cooperation from the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in parliament.

Divisions within Kan’s party have deepened amid political turmoil that has dismayed voters at a time of crisis and slowed debate on key measures needed to cope with the March disasters and efforts to ease Japan’s ballooning debt.

Kan drew fire from both ruling and opposition parties for unilaterally appointing LDP upper house lawmaker Kazuyuki Hamada as a vice internal affairs minister in charge of reconstruction.

The premier neither consulted his own party nor the opposition on Hamada’s appointment, which was described by the influential Asahi Shimbun as an ‘attempt to undermine LDP strength in the upper house’.

The DPJ, which ended a half century of almost unbroken LDP conservative rule with a landslide election win in 2009, lost its majority in the upper house last year following elections under Kan.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, widely tipped to succeed Kan as premier, told reporters Tuesday that Kan should have directly ‘bowed his head and pleaded for cooperation’ from the LDP.

The business daily Nikkei said: ‘The DPJ no longer resembles a ruling party as it continues to react in a spur-of-the-moment manner.’

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