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Archive for Tuesday, September 2, 2008

PM resigns to avoid ‘political vacuum’

September 2, 2008

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— Japan's chronically unpopular prime minister abruptly resigned Monday after a yearlong struggle with a deadlocked parliament, leaving the weakened ruling party to grapple with a stalled economy and rising calls for snap elections.

The resignation of Yasuo Fukuda, 72, deepened a two-year stretch of political instability at the helm of the world's second-largest economy. It came only days after the government announced a stimulus package to counter flagging consumer spending.

Fukuda, who took office just under a year ago, said he was clearing the decks for a more popular successor to take over ahead of a tough special session in the parliament, where the ruling party controls the lower house and the opposition dominates the upper.

"We still have time before discussion of key policies starts in the upcoming parliamentary session, and this is the perfect timing not to cause people too much trouble," Fukuda said, explaining that he was exiting to avoid a "political vacuum."

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