TOKYO, Aug. 19 (UPI) — A U.S.-Japan summit early next month has been set aside, a Japanese official said Friday, apparently because the Japanese prime minister may soon leave office.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, citing “Japan’s current political situation,” said the two sides decided against planning the summit between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and U.S. President Barack Obama in the United States, Kyodo News reported.
Kan, who became prime minister in June, has been under intense pressure to resign since the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by the March 11 earthquake-tsunami destruction.
There have been a number of reports Kan would step down soon after Parliament approves two major bills allowing the government to issue deficit-covering bonds this fiscal year and promoting the use of renewable energy. Kan’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party have planned to get the bills passed before the end of this month, which would then pave the way for Kan’s exit.
Edano said Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto recently informed U.S. Ambassador John Roos about the summit decision and that the United States understood it.
An earlier Kyodo report, quoting sources, said the Japanese government is hoping to reschedule the summit for late September after Kan’s successor is picked. Under that schedule, the summit with President Obama would be held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York.
The summit is important as both sides have been planning to issue during that meeting a joint statement on a new vision for their bilateral alliance.