Japan PM Naoto Kan Resigns

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan confirmed  his resignation. He announced his resignation as president of the Democratic Party of Japan, effectively ending his tenure as Japanese leader. "I resign as the (party) president effective today," Kan told senior party officials, Jiji press quoted him as saying.  Kyodo news agency said, setting the stage for Japan to pick its sixth premier in five years as it tries to rebuild from a massive earthquake and tsunami, forge a new energy policy after a nuclear crisis and curb huge public debt.
The race to become Japan's sixth leader in five years was blown wide open on Monday when former foreign minister Seiji Maehara, aged 49, decided to run. That cut sharply into the chances of Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, a fiscal conservative. The support base for the two men overlaps in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) - and whoever is elected next week as leader of the party with control of the lower house will become prime minister. Japan's new leader will have to grapple with a soaring yen that threatens exports, step up efforts to rebuild from the March earthquake and tsunami and end a radiation crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant - all while trying to curb public debt and cure the ills of a fast-ageing society. But concerns run deep as to whether the next prime minister will fare any better than his predecessors in the face of a divided parliament and ruling party split by policies and personal feuds.