- Title: JAPAN: Fukuda's sudden resignation surprises nation
- Date: 2nd September 2008
- Summary: (BN02) TOKYO, JAPAN (SEPTEMBER 2, 2008) (REUTERS) MONITOR WITH SIGN READING "TOKYO STOCK EXCHANGE" MONITOR SHOWING VARIOUS STOCK PRICES MONITOR SHOWING NIKKEI AVERAGE PRICE AT 12,779.89 YEN VARIOUS OF TOKYO STOCK EXCHANGE WORKERS ELECTRONIC BOARD SHOWING STOCK PRICES EXTERIOR OF TOKYO STOCK EXCHANGE MONITOR AT FOREIGN CURRENCY TRADING HOUSE SHOWING EXCHANGE RATE AT 05 YEN AGAINST DOLLAR DEALERS WATCHING EXCHANGE RATES MONITOR SHOWING 108.15 YEN AGAINST DOLLAR VARIOUS OF DEALERS
- Embargoed: 17th September 2008 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA8DMIGJJBXS90AFNVMY0NM49D1
- Story Text: Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda resigns abruptly over political deadlock taking the whole nation by surprise.
Japan began searching for a new prime minister on Tuesday (September 2) after Yasuo Fukuda became the second leader to resign in less than a year, threatening a further policy vacuum as the economy teeters on the brink of recession.
Fukuda said on Monday (September 1) that he had decided to resign in an effort to break a political deadlock and hawkish former foreign minister Taro Aso leads the race to take his place.
Fukuda, 72, has been struggling to cope with a divided parliament where the opposition parties control the upper house and can delay legislation.
"If we are to prioritise the people's livelihoods, there cannot be a political vacuum from political bargaining, or a lapse in policies. We need a new team to carry out policies," Fukuda said. "Today, I decided to step down in hopes that important policies can be materialised more smoothly."
Fukuda's sudden resignation is now taking the whole nation by surprise.
"I don't know why he decided to quit all the sudden like former Prime Minister Abe when he quit last September," 54-year-old businessman Shota Kamimura told Reuters during his morning commute. "As a Japanese citizen, I'm worried because his resignation will affect how the world sees us, especially at times when we are losing the international trust," he added.
Thirty six-year-old businesswoman Naoko Imai said she is upset with the way he resigned.
"I felt like he decided to give up everything and quit as soon as he got fed up with the situation," said Imai.
On the contrary, some younger generation was taking the leader's leave as a positive change.
"I just feel like there are many candidates in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that can make new reforms - even in the opposition party as well," 24 year-old businessman Kota Shimada told Reuters. "So I'm looking forward to seeing new changes happen in Japan."
The Japanese benchmark Nikkei average opened down 0.4 percent on Tuesday (September 2) in the wake of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's sudden resignation, but soon turned positive, with Fukuda's resignation having only a limited impact at best.
Topping the list of likely candidates to become Japan's 11th prime minister in 15 years, is Taro, 67, an outspoken nationalist who now holds the No. 2 position in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). He was runner-up to Fukuda in the race for party chief last year.
Aso said he thought he was a suitable candidate in a party vote, which Kyodo news agency said was expected on September 22.
"As someone who discussed these issues with him, including the economic package, I think I have the credentials to take that on," said the veteran lawmaker, currently secretary-general in the LDP.
Fukuda had been struggling to cope with a divided parliament where opposition parties have the power to delay legislation, and his sudden exit raised questions about his conservative party's ability to cling to power or even hold together after ruling Japan for most of the past 53 years.
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