Given the government's response to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters, it's a wonder he lasted this long.
Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan stepped down today, amid mounting criticism over his government's handling of the country's worst natural disaster and nuclear accident.
His resignation comes two months after Kan vowed to take responsibility for the crisis, and nearly 15 months after he rose to power, making him the sixth prime minister to step down in five years.
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan will vote for its new leader on Monday, paving the way for Kan's replacement.
"I feel that I've done everything necessary, under these difficult circumstances," Kan told DPJ lawmakers, in a nationally televised address. "Now I would like to see you chose somebody respectable as the new prime minister."
Japan has been plagued by political instability at a time when it faces an increasingly challenging economic climate. The country's public debt is now more than twice its GDP, and the Japanese yen has battered exporters as it hovers at a post-war high against the dollar. The world's third largest economy is tasked with rebuilding tsunami ravaged communities along the northeast coast, a reconstruction effort that is estimated to cost more than $200 billion.
Actually, you can only criticize the government's response in hindsight. I doubt that there are many governments in the world that could have done a decent job given the immensity of the challenges that faced the Kan administration in the immediate aftermath of the disasters.
But in the traditional way, Kan took full responsibility for the mess and has paid the price. Would that we had a leader in this country who took responsibility for his mistakes.