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After 15 Months In Office Japan's Leader Steps Down


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


Kenneth, welcome to the program.

KENNETH CUKIER: Yeah, thanks.

GREENE: Give us the background for this resignation, if you can. How did it come about?

CUKIER: And after it built up and they were given many chances, they kept on underperforming, and as a result the people got fed up and his popularity sunk to the level that he couldn't get much done as a leader.

GREENE: Well, you said there were years of political stability in Japan. But recently, I mean, we're talking about this'll be the sixth new prime minister since 2006. What is now making holding that office so hard?

CUKIER: And Japan does that very well. It's considered a democracy within a democracy, because although you may have one party in power, you have multiple factions vying for control. So as a result, the prime ministership has been a complete revolving door. And that doesn't look like it's going to change.

GREENE: What are the big challenges facing the new prime minister beginning next week?

CUKIER: And so those two issues - Fukushima and the economy...

GREENE: And the economy.

CUKIER: ...are two critical issues.

GREENE: And so, Kenneth, what is the next step in the process? I understand there's a meeting Monday. I mean how will a new successor be chosen?

CUKIER: The party is going to have a debate. They will discuss the issues and then they will vote and elect a leader of the party. The leader of the party will become the prime minister. He will select his cabinet and then they will present themselves to the emperor for approval.

GREENE: Kenneth, thank you.

CUKIER: Thanks, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.