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Japan: Naoto Kan offers to step down after quake work

Japan's prime minister makes his first indication that he is willing to step down.

Naoto kan 2011 6 2Enlarge
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan bows as he delivers an opening speech at a UN meeting in Tokyo on June 2, 2011. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

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.