Race Begins to Pick New Japan Prime Minister

Posted August 27th, 2011 at 1:05 am (UTC-5)
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Japan's ruling party has begun a 2-day campaign to select a successor to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who announced his resignation Friday.

Five members of the Democratic Party of Japan announced their candidacy Saturday. Former foreign minister Seiji Maehara and Economy Minister Banri Kaieda lead the pack.

After the five hold news conferences and debates Saturday and Sunday, the DPJ's 398 members of parliament will vote Monday to choose a new party president. As early as Tuesday, the party's legislators will almost certainly approve the winner to be Japan's sixth prime minister in five years.

Prime Minister Kan announced his resignation as president of the Democratic Party of Japan Friday.

Mr. Kan had been under pressure to resign because of widespread dissatisfaction with his government's handling of the response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

After surviving a no-confidence vote in June, Mr. Kan said he would quit if three key bills were passed – a second budget, a budget financing bill and legislation promoting the use of renewable energy. The final two bills passed Friday.