Japan's PM expresses hope to stay in office till August

14:31, June 09, 2011      

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Thursday he hoped to keep his post in office until August, although members of his own ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and opposition parties are attempting to bulldoze him into stepping down as early as this month.

On Thursday Kan reiterated his view in a lower house parliamentary session, drawing fire from opposition parties for the ambiguous nature in which he voiced his intention to step down, offering only a vague reference to a potential timeframe.

"We are trying to take out rubble from residential areas by the end of August," said Kan who survived a no-confidence motion on June 2 after saying he would step down once headway with reconstruction had been made and the Fukushima crisis resolved.

"I will do my job responsibly until then," said the prime minister, who has been in office for just one year and is Japan's fifth prime minister in as many years.

As pressure mounts from within his own party and from opposition parties for embattled Kan, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda has emerged as a favorite to succeed Kan after having garnered the support of senior DPJ officials.

Senior ruling party officials, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, his deputy Yoshito Sengoku and the party's No. 2 Katsuya Okada, all agreed not to run for the top post, but are backing Noda as their frontrunner to succeed Kan, lawmakers said.

The unpopular PM is, according to some opposition Liberal Democratic Party members, the reason why opposition parties stand poised to obstruct key bills necessary to finance a large portion of this year's fiscal budget and the second extra budget earmarked for the post-quake and tsunami reconstruction efforts in the northeast of Japan.

Noda, 54, according to local media, is keen to take over from Kan despite not commenting officially. He has supported Kan's push for tax reforms, which include the thorny issues of a sales tax hike and social welfare reforms, as Japan is dealing with a rapidly aging society and a huge debt burden in the industrialized world.

Source: Xinhua
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