Japan to pick new PM next week

Japan’s centre-left ruling party is set to choose a new leader next Monday to replace unpopular incumbent Naoto Kan as party president and therefore as prime minister, officials said.

Kan, Japan’s fifth premier in as many years, has been expected for weeks to announce his resignation amid stinging criticism over his response to the March 11 quake and tsunami disaster and the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Kan, 64, has since the Fukushima accident strongly advocated a nuclear-free future for Japan, a position that has put him at loggerheads with the conservative opposition and some members of his own party.

The August 29 election will be held on the condition that two bills—one of them to promote renewable energy, which Kan has championed—pass this week, said Democratic Party of Japan DPJ secretary general Katsuya Okada.

Parliament would most likely confirm the new premier on August 30.

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