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Japan PM beats no-confidence vote

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan has survived a no-confidence motion in parliament.

But he said he is willing to resign when the country's post-tsunami recovery takes hold.

Mr Kan won by a margin of 293-152 in the 480-seat lower house. Several members were absent or abstained from the vote.

Before the session, he urged politicians to let him stay on and push ahead with measures to bring the country through the crisis caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which left more than 24,000 people dead or missing and crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant north-east of Tokyo.

He said he would consider resigning after the measures begin to have an effect.

Mr Kan, who has been in office for just one year, has been criticised for not acting quickly enough over the crisis.

Mr Kan did not specify a date for when he might step down or say how he would determine that the recovery was on track. Opponents immediately condemned that, saying Japan cannot afford to have a lame-duck administration.

"Once the post-quake reconstruction efforts are settled, I will pass on my responsibility to younger generations," he said. "The nuclear crisis is ongoing, and I will make my utmost efforts to end the crisis and move forward with post-quake reconstruction works."

Japanese media reported that he could stay on for a few months. "I don't think it will be long," said Yukio Hatoyama, a ruling party member who preceded Mr Kan as prime minister.

The disaster - believed to be the costliest in history - has been a huge drain on Japan's already fragile economy. Japan's government has said the cost of the earthquake and tsunami could reach 309 billion dollars (£188 billion), making it the world's most expensive natural disaster on record, with extensive damage to housing, roads, utilities and businesses. Japan's ballooning debt is already twice the size of the country's gross domestic product.

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