Tokyo: Japan`s Prime Minister named his
deputy Naoto Kan as Finance Minister on Wednesday, replacing
77-year-old Hirohisa Fujii who is stepping down for health
reasons in a blow to the three-month-old government.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, struggling to reverse a
slump in his popularity, said Fujii`s resignation was
unavoidable due to exhaustion after months of hard work
drawing up the national budget.
"The doctors` medical certificate said it is
difficult for him to execute his official duty as a minister.
I have no choice but to take the doctors` diagnosis
seriously," Hatoyama told reporters.
"I believe Deputy Prime Minister Kan can fully handle
the job," he added. Kan, 63, is a co-founder of the governing
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and reputed for his tough
legislative debating skills.
He is best known for his work as a health minister
in the 1990s, when he pushed civil servants to disclose the
ministry`s involvement in allowing the use of imported blood
products tainted with HIV.
Nicknamed "irritable Kan" for his sometimes short
temper, he is a one-time grassroots activist and former leader
of the DPJ, which he co-launched in 1998 along with Hatoyama.
He will also remain deputy prime minister.