Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, says he’s stepping down. He is quitting as leader of the ruling Democratic Party, paving the way for the country to choose its sixth premier in five years.
Kan had been under fire for his response to this year’s tsunami and the radiation crisis that followed.
His successor faces a mountain of challenges, including rebuilding after the disasters in March and forging a new energy policy.
Announcing his decision, the outgoing prime minister said he would still work, as both a politician and a citizen, to create a society that was less dependent on nuclear power.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all members of the party,” he said.
Naoto Kan’s approval ratings had plunged to below 20 percent amid the criticism of his handling of the radiation crisis at the Fukushima plant following the earthquake and tsunami.
Successive governments have struggled to deal with deep-rooted economic problems in the face of a divided parliament.
A new leader will be chosen on Monday.