Japan’s center-left ruling party will choose a new leader next Monday to replace Naoto Kan as party president and therefore as prime minister, a senior party official said.
Kan, Japan’s fifth premier in five years, has been expected for weeks to announce his resignation amid stinging criticism over his response to the March 11 quake and tsunami disaster and the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The August 29 election will be held on the condition that two bills — on bond issuance and renewable energy — which Kan has championed, pass this week, said Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) secretary general Katsuya Okada.
Parliament would most likely confirm the new premier on August 30.
Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda has been seen as the frontrunner to replace Kan, and Trade Minister Banri Kaieda, former transport minister Sumio Mabuchi and others have also thrown their hats into the ring.
Whoever wins the premier’s job faces urgent challenges, chiefly the need to rebuild from Japan’s worst post-war disaster while keeping in check a public debt mountain that is twice the size of the economy.