Diet votes in Kan as prime minister
Cabinet, top DPJ appointments expected to keep Ozawa at bay
Naoto Kan was voted in as prime minister by the Diet on Friday, shortly after the ruling Democratic Party of Japan elected him as its new president.
The change of leadership comes only two days after Kan’s predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, abruptly announced his resignation over his failure to resolve a dispute over the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, and money scandals that have dogged his tenure.
Kan, 63, who has become the 94th prime minister, will take over an administration reeling from dwindling public support little over a month before an Upper House poll.
With the DPJ holding a comfortable majority in the Lower House, Kan’s election as national leader was all but expected. He received 313 votes in the lower chamber, and 123 in the Upper House.
Kan immediately started tapping lawmakers for his Cabinet and party executive posts. But Kan told DPJ Diet Affairs Chief Kenji Yamaoka that he intends to form a new Cabinet on Tuesday, instead of Friday as initially expected.
A full lineup of the new DPJ executives is expected to be decided Monday.
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On Friday morning, Hatoyama and his Cabinet resigned en masse to make way for the new administration. Hatoyama chose not to hold a farewell news conference but apologized for his abrupt resignation in a statement released to the press.
“We materialized vows made to the public, such as the new child allowance, tuition-free high schools and providing new subsidies for farmers,” Hatoyama said.
But he acknowledged his failure to deliver on some pledges during his stint, saying, “I truly regret that promises made to the public could not be carried out.”
According to now ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano, Hatoyama urged his Cabinet in their last meeting to pursue “clean” politics and continue efforts as lawmakers to alleviate Okinawa’s burden in hosting U.S. bases.
“Expectations were extremely high, and we were required to provide results in a short span of time,” Hirano said, suggesting that, under the difficult circumstances, the different parts of government may not have been working in sync.
Hirano, who played a key role in the failed negotiations to relocate the Futenma air base outside of Okinawa, said he felt responsible for Hatoyama’s resignation, adding, “But it was an honor to serve the prime minister.”
Hatoyama was prime minister 262 days, the fifth-shortest administration under the current Constitution.