Naoto Kan Elected Japan’s New PM

Japan has picked its fifth prime minister in four years, following the resignation of Yukio Hatoyama on Wednesday. Former Finance Minister Naoto Kan has assumed as the country’s new prime minister after he was elected by Parliament over Liberal Democratic Party leader Sadakazu Tanigaka on a 313-116 vote.

Kan will take over a government embroiled in a controversy over the U.S. bases in Okinawa and an economy struggling to recover from the effects of a recent financial crisis. Kan has promised to make economic recovery and growth as the main focus of his administration while also cementing diplomatic relationships with Japan’s closest allies like the United States.

Kan comes into the premiership as an outsider, being the first prime minister since 1996 to have not come from a political family. He came to national prominence in 1996 when he exposed a government cover-up of HIV-tainted blood used in transfusion. Aside from his being outspoken, Kan is also known for his short temper, which has earned him the moniker “Irritable Kan.”