Naoto Kan, Japan’s beleaguered prime minister, has acknowledged for the first time since March 11 that he may step down — but not until he’s done doing what he needs to do. Kan has come under increasing pressure from both inside and outside his party to give up his post after his handling of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and continuing nuclear crisis. In a televised meeting with his party on Thursday morning, Kan said: “I’d like to pass on my responsibility to a younger generation once we reach a certain stage in tackling the disaster and I’ve fulfilled my role.” He did not indicate when that might be.
It was an effort to save his job ahead of a no-confidence motion that took place 3PM today in the lower house of parliament. The motion, which would have required Kan to dissolve the parliament and call for new elections or resign with his Cabinet in 10 days, was voted down 293 to 152. Still, its submission by the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and two smaller opposition groups underscores the fact that Japan’s political landscape is nearly as volatile as its geology.
In the months since March 11, Kan has come under fire for his government’s response to the crisis, from the length of time that it has taken to build temporary housing for the thousands left homeless after the tsunami to the lack of clear communication about the severity and scope of the nuclear crisis that has followed. Indeed, Kan was peculiarly absent from the public sphere during the first month of the crisis — he did not set foot in the disaster zone for weeks after the tsunami — with chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano tirelessly facing world’s cameras. More recently, detailed reports have emerged that Kan was deeply involved in trying to prevent a full-blown nuclear fallout at Fukushima during those early days, which may account for — if not excuse — his absence.
Read more over at Global Spin.