But for most of his 14 months in power, Mr. Kan has heard opponents tell him “No, you can’t.”
Japan is a parliamentary democracy, but a nexus of entrenched bureaucrats, former leaders, back-room kingmakers, business elites and conservative media exerted perhaps more influence over policy than Mr. Kan himself during what he has called “Japan’s worst crisis since the war” — the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.
The son of a company worker, or “salaryman,” Mr. Kan was unlike other leaders who descended from politicians. He began his political career as an aide to a women’s rights activist and has since struggled to put his personal stamp on Japan.
Not long after his impassioned speech in July saying Japan would phase-out nuclear energy, various ministers said it was only his personal view, not the policy of the government.
Though he succeeded in ordering the shutdown of the Hamaoka nuclear reactor downwind of Tokyo, the Chubu Electric Power Co. later declared it would restart reactors after spending billions of dollars on building a wall to keep out tsunamis.
Mr. Kan survived a party revolt in June and vowed to stay in office until passage of bills on renewable energy and financing reconstruction of the tsunami-ravaged northeast. Observers, including Social Democratic Party chief Mizuho Fukushima, said it’s unclear whether Mr. Kan’s successor will implement his vision for Japan.
While Mr. Kan immediately went on TV to appear in charge after the 9.0-magnitude quake, he did not set foot in the disaster area until three weeks later, and he spent pnly a few hours with survivors at shelters in the obliterated town of Rikuzen-Takata in Iwate province, the domain of his political nemesis Ichiro Ozawa.
“As a ruling party, they [the Democratic Party of Japan] haven’t been able to bring everybody together,” opposition leader Sadokazu Tanigaki, former finance minister during the rule of the Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday. “That’s why they’ve had trouble ruling the country.”
Mr. Kan’s 64 percent approval ratings last September evaporated amid his government’s clumsy handling of a collision between Japanese and Chinese vessels near a disputed island.
Not long after that, his wife and first cousin, Nobuko Kan, revealed in her book “What on Earth Will Change in Japan Now That You Are Prime Minister?” that she didn’t expect to stay long in the prime minister’s residence.View Entire Story
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