Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan indicated for the first time Thursday that he may step down after his work dealing with earthquake and tsunami reconstruction finishes.
"Once I have accomplished my role, I am ready to pass on various responsibilities to the younger generation," he said to lawmakers, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Kan said he wants to ensure "post-quake reconstruction efforts are settled" and end the ongoing nuclear crisis before he steps aside.
The move is seen as an effort to head off a challenge from opposition parties and others in the ruling party, the Financial Times reports.
Kan faces a vote on a no-confidence motion in the lower house of parliament later Thursday. Others in his party had threatened to back the motion.
Kan did not specify a timing for his possible departure in his address.
Kan has faced criticism for his role in handling the earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of the country and triggered a nuclear crisis. He was criticized for delays in construction of temporary housing, lack of transparency and a lack of leadership, AP states.
This factbox by Reuters has a list of possible successors to Kan. It includes ruling Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers and the head of the opposition Liberal Democratic Part.