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Kan, Naoto

Naoto Kan, 1946–, Japanese political leader, grad. Tokyo Institute of Technology (1970). A civic activist and long-time opponent of the Liberal Democratic party, he first was elected to the Diet in 1980 as a Social Democrat. In 1996, when the party (Sakigake) to which he then belonged was in coalition with the LDP, he served as health minister, and won prominence by exposing a scandal dating to the 1980s involving the use of blood products tainted with HIV. A cofounder (1996) of the party that became the Democratic party of Japan (DPJ), he was party leader (1996–99, 2002–4), resigning in 2004 over his failure to make state pension payments while he served as health minister. When the DPJ won control of the Diet in 2009, he became deputy prime minister and headed the government's efforts to reduce the bureaucracy's influence on policy-making. Finance minister from Jan., 2010, he succeeded Yukio Hatoyama as party leader and prime minister in June, 2010. Regarded as ineffective, especially in the aftermath of the Mar., 2011, earthquake and tsunami, he resigned in Aug., 2011, and was succeeded by Yoshihiko Noda.

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