Kan leaves office, jokes about distancing himself from Noda

Kyodo

Naoto Kan stepped down as prime minister Friday joking that he would heed his own advice and distance himself from the new government.

“I held out with your support. Keep up the good work under the new prime minister,” Kan told Yukio Edano, his now ex-chief Cabinet secretary, and some 150 employees who gathered to see him off.

“From now on, I will try to stay away from the prime minister’s office,” Kan said, smiling.

The remark was apparently a reference to the way Kan had to suffer the criticism of his predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, who tried to take Kan down by siding with his arch rival, Ichiro Ozawa, after resigning in June last year.

Kan also shook hands with his body guards and thanked them.

Kan’s stint lasted 452 days, the 19th-longest of the 30 prime ministers who have served since the Constitution took effect in May 1947. Above him was Masayoshi Ohira, in office for 554 days.

Kan was the second prime minister since the Democratic Party of Japan ousted the Liberal Democratic Party in the historic September 2009 general election.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is the nation’s sixth leader in five years, after Junichiro Koizumi served for a five-year stretch until September 2006.