Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan has survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote aimed at driving him from power, vowing to stay in office only until he has helped the country overcome the worst of its post-quake and tsunami nuclear crisis.
Kan, who assumed his job about a year ago, told legislators Thursday: "I want the younger generation to take over my duties after I fulfill the role I should play in handling the disaster."
He cut a backroom political deal with members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DJP) only hours before the parliamentary vote was to take place, according to the LA Times, and the motion was defeated 293 votes to 152.
His resignation would force Japan to elect its sixth prime minister in five years.
The Australian writes:
The no-confidence motion had threatened to plunge the country into political turmoil, compounding the woes from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which left 23,000 dead and missing and caused the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.
Had the motion succeeded, it would have almost certainty resulted in a fresh election, infuriating voters across the disaster-ravaged nation.
But Kan's offer to step down does little to resolve the country's long-running political and policy paralysis, Reuters writes:
Yet, weakened by rifts within his own party, Kan may be seen as a lame duck by the opposition and have little luck with tax and social security reforms, which Japan badly needs to contain its bulging debt and which require opposition backing in a divided parliament.
Influential DJP leader Ichiro Ozawa, pledged support for the no-confidence motion against Kan and may field a candidate in a leadership ballot or even stand himself. The no-confidence motion was also supported by former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, the man Kan replaced.
Kan made it clear he was prepared to step down in order to prevent a snap poll that might have handed government to the Liberal Democratic Party of Sadakazu Tanagaki.