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Last updated at 13:46 BST, Friday, 04 June 2010

Japan's new prime minister


4 June 2010

Japan has a new prime minister, the fifth in three years.

He's the former finance minister, Naoto Kan, who takes over from Yukio Hatoyama who resigned suddenly on Wednesday.

Roland Buerk

Naoto Kan

New Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan


Click to hear the report:


Naoto Kan rose to his feet and bowed to acknowledge the applause as the Diet voted him Prime Minister of Japan.

The former finance minister has made it to the top from humble beginnings. He's described his father as 'a salaryman'. His four immediate predecessors were the sons or grandsons of prime ministers.

Mr Kan has said his first priority is to revive the sluggish economy, all but certain to be overtaken by China this year as the second biggest in the world. He must also try to mend relations with Japan's main ally, the United States, strained by the row over an American military base on Okinawa which brought down the last prime minister.

His toughest task may be to recapture the optimism that accompanied the Democratic Party's rise to power just nine months ago when it ousted the conservatives who dominated the post-war era.

The new prime minister won't have long to impress. Elections to the less powerful upper house of the Diet, seen as a referendum on the government's performance, are due within weeks.

Roland Buerk, BBC News, Japan


Click to hear the vocabulary:


rose to his feet

stood up

from humble beginnings

from an average family

a salaryman

an expression used in Japanese to refer to a man who works in an office and is paid a salary


people who had the job before him

to revive the sluggish economy

to bring life back to the economy which at the moment is performing poorly

to mend relations with

to fix a relationship that has become damaged or broken

strained by the row

made difficult by the argument

brought down

caused the resignation of

to recapture the optimism

to bring back the positive feeling and atmosphere


won against and replaced

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