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Japanese Prime Minister To Resign

April 6, 2001

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TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori told his Cabinet on Friday that he had made up his mind to resign, but did not set a date for stepping down, the government’s top spokesman said.

The widely unpopular Mori had long been expected to resign. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is planning to hold a leadership election later this month that would choose a successor.

But Friday’s announcement was the first time Mori said publicly that he would step down.

``I made up my mind to resign because I think it is necessary to tackle mounting issues both at home and abroad under a new administration,″ Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda quoted Mori as telling the Cabinet.

The LDP began preparations this week to hold elections on April 24 for a new party president. The LDP president is almost guaranteed to become prime minister because of the party’s domination of Parliament.

The date still needs to be approved by other party officials, and a final decision was scheduled for next Tuesday.

Mori hinted strongly last month that he would step down soon by calling for the LDP’s leadership election to be pushed up from September.

Although Mori has proved to be one of Japan’s least popular leaders in decades, finding a replacement for him has been difficult.

Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto appears to have become the front-runner. Hashimoto heads the party’s largest faction and reportedly has the support of two other factions.

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