Prime Minister resigns
As previously expected, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has resigned after 17 months in power. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will elect a new leader on Monday (29th August).
Candidates for the post are required to gain the support of at least 20 party lawmakers from the 398 representing the party in the upper house, the House of Councillors and the lower house, the House of Representatives. There are 407 representatives in both houses but nine members have their party membership suspended.
According to the Daily Yomiuri, each candidate will be given ten minutes to make their speech before each member of the electoral college writes the name of their preferred candidate down on paper and places it in a ballot box. If there is no clear winner then a second round runoff is held for the top two candidates. The successful candidate will then be presented to the Diet, probably on Tuesday.
The Daily Yomiuri says that nine possible candidates or their representatives attended a briefing on Thursday night. They are:
Former foreign minister, Seiji Maehara
Finance Minister, Yoshihiko Noda
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Michihiko Kano
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, Banri Kaieda
Former Environment Minister, Sakihito Ozawa
Chairman of the DPJ committee on fundamental national policies, Shinji Tarutoko
Former Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister, Sumio Mabuchi
Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hirofumi Hirano (a representative)
Senior vice minister of internal affairs and communications, Hideo Hiraoka (a representative).