Business, Economics and Jobs

Japan: Naoto Kan offers to step down after quake work


Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan bows as he delivers an opening speech at a UN meeting in Tokyo on June 2, 2011.


Yoshikazu Tsuno

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan indicated for the first time Thursday that he may step down after his work dealing with earthquake and tsunami reconstruction finishes.

"Once I have accomplished my role, I am ready to pass on various responsibilities to the younger generation," he said to lawmakers, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Kan said he wants to ensure "post-quake reconstruction efforts are settled" and end the ongoing nuclear crisis before he steps aside.

The move is seen as an effort to head off a challenge from opposition parties and others in the ruling party, the Financial Times reports.

Kan faces a vote on a no-confidence motion in the lower house of parliament later Thursday. Others in his party had threatened to back the motion.

Kan did not specify a timing for his possible departure in his address.

Kan has faced criticism for his role in handling the earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of the country and triggered a nuclear crisis. He was criticized for delays in construction of temporary housing, lack of transparency and a lack of leadership, AP states.

This factbox by Reuters has a list of possible successors to Kan. It includes ruling Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers and the head of the opposition Liberal Democratic Part.