Japan Faces New Disaster – This Time It Is Political
UPDATE (3:45pm, Japan local time): Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has survived a no-confidence vote in parliament. Kan’s televised speech minutes before the scheduled vote may have changed the minds of those who had planned to cast the no-confidence vote.
Our earlier story is below.
TOKYO — Via a televised speech Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan told his constituents on Thursday that he will resign after more work has been done to help the earthquake victims. Looking teary-eyed, Kan once again apologized for mistakes made following the March 11 Tohoku 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. The natural disasters almost triggered a nuclear catastrophe at the TEPCO Fukushima Daichii Nuclear Plant.
Prime Minister Kan is Japan’s 5th leader since 2006. He took office one year ago. His unpopularity was building even before the earthquake happened. The Japanese have been unhappy with his performance at turning the country’s staggering economy around and lowering rising unemployment, specially among college graduates. Tensions with China have also escalated due to Kan’s government handling of last year’s Senkaku Island incident.
“Almost of my friends and I don’t favor Prime Minister Kan. Nobody wants him to stay in his post,” said Naoko Suzuki, a business woman living in Tokyo. “But unfortunately we don’t have any better candidates for Prime Minister. We are disillusioned. We accept our fate with resignation.”
After the earthquake, the Japanese gave Kan a chance at showing leadership, but were once again disappointed at the government’s response to the nuclear crisis at Fukushima; many felt the government didn’t put enough pressure on TEPCO to provide real data on the size of the damage at the plant.
Politicians in Kan’s party and the opposition will meet in the next few hours to cast a no-confidence vote against Kan. The vote will likely call for a re-election in parliament for someone to replace Kan.