Kan Resignation Battle Threatens Japanese Reconstruction Bills

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 2:30 am (UTC-5)
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Crucial legislation to finance Japan's post-earthquake reconstruction is at risk amid a political struggle over the timing of Prime Minister Naoto Kan's planned resignation.

Leaders of Mr. Kan's Democratic Party of Japan said after talks with the prime minister Sunday that Mr. Kan wants to remain in office long enough to try to push the bills through the current session of parliament.

However, leaders of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party want Mr. Kan to resign sooner, saying the bills should be introduced by a new government that will be in place to oversee their implementation. The LDP controls the upper house and has the power to block the bills.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, the government's top spokesman, said Monday a system must be established to foster cooperation between the parties. Party leaders are discussing the formation of a grand coalition to address the crisis created by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Mr. Kan announced Thursday that he will step down sometime in the coming months. The promise helped him to avoid defeat on a no-confidence motion in which dozens of ruling party members had said they would vote with the opposition.

A later remark by Mr. Kan was taken to mean he hoped to remain in office until early next year, sparking fresh criticism. But the prime minister made clear Sunday that was not the case.

Most Japanese media commentators believe the resignation will come sometime between June and September.

Numerous opinion polls have shown the public is deeply dissatisfied with Mr. Kan's handling of the earthquake aftermath and the long-running crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant.