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Naoto Kan, prime minister of Japan, addresses reporters at the weekend's G8 summit. Kan faces a motion of no confidence in his leadership this week. AP

Japanese PM faces no confidence vote over nuclear crisis

Naoto Kan has been panned for his response to the March 11 tsunami and nuclear crisis, and could face a vote this week.

THE PRIME MINISTER of Japan could face a no-confidence vote in the Diet this week, after opposition parties condemned his poor handling of the aftermath of the March 11 tsunami and the nuclear crisis that followed.

Naoto Kan, who will mark his first anniversary of taking office next week, is seen to have fallen short in efforts to resuscitate the country’s confidence in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima I nuclear power plant.

Though the Wall Street Journal reports that members of the main opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party, have little chance of forcing the measure through the parliament, Kan’s margin of victory will still be quite narrow.

Kyodo News reports that the main opposition parties have today agreed to submit the motion, which could now be debated by the Diet as soon as Thursday.

The WSJ’s report adds that while opinion polls put Kan’s approval rate at just 28 per cent, the same polls indicate no major appetite for an immediate change of leadership.

Kan’s unpopularity has been underlined by the unusual move of the President of the upper house, Takeo Nishioka – a member of Kan’s own Democratic Party of Japan - to write a recent newspaper piece panning Kan’s leadership.

That piece was published in the Yomiuri Shimbun, the world’s most widely-read newspaper, and marked an unusual departure of the Speaker of the Upper House who ordinarily remains politically impartial.

AFP reports that Kan had been appointed prime minister last June after a political truce with the Liberal party, which withdrew from the agreement within a month of the March 11 disasters.

The Liberals have since rejected a proposal from Kan to become formal coalition partners and form a national unity government.

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