Japanese PM Naoto Kan likely to resign

Visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan prior to their talks at Kan's office in Tokyo.

Jeremy Hobson: Japan is getting a new prime minister. Naoto Kan is resigning after only about a year in power. The change-over is expected to happen next week, and could have a significant consequence for the global economy.

The BBC's Roland Buerk is with us now from Tokyo with the latest. Good morning.

Roland Buerk: Good morning.

Hobson: So there are reports this morning that saying that this is about the Fukushima disaster and the response to that. But this is the seventh prime minister Japan has had in the last five years. It seems like there must be something economic here.

Buerk: Well, certainly the economy is a major factor. The fact is that we've had so many prime ministers here because the parliament is divided -- the opposition control the upper house, the government controls the lower house. And that means none of those prime ministers has really been able to get things done to tackle the economy. And in addition to that, it's been difficult for Mr. Kan to tackle the problems of the Fukushima nuclear plant, to kick-start the reconstruction after the huge earthquake and tsunami in March. It's cost him his popularity, and now it's costing him his job.

Hobson: Alright, well what about the next prime minister? Is this going to have an impact on the rest world? Japan is still obviously one of the biggest economies in the world.

Buerk: I think it depends on who it's going to be. What Japan needs to do, many people say, is tackle its enormous public deficit and the huge public debt, which is the biggest in the industrialized world. But a new prime minister, if he can reach out to the opposition, could start to tackle these problems in Japan's economy. And given that this is the third biggest economy in the world, that would be good for other countries too.

Hobson: The BBC's Roland Buerk joining us from Tokyo. Thanks, Roland.

Buerk: Thank you.

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