Japan's cabinet resigned en masse on Friday, and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) started the process of party presidential election, the winner of which will become the next prime minister of the country.
Yukio Hatoyama and his cabinet members resigned en masse in the morning, Xinhua reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan, 63, is leading the race. He is being challenged by Shinji Tarutoko, 50, a lawmaker who chairs the House of Representatives Environment Committee.
The election started at 9 a.m. local time. A general meeting of party lawmakers from both chambers of the Diet will begin at 11 a.m., where 307 lower house members and 115 House of Councillors members will cast ballot to choose their new leader.
The new DPJ president, expected to be named at around 12.30 p.m. will become Japan's next prime minister as the party holds a comfortable majority in the lower house.
Hatoyama announced his resignation on Wednesday, bowing to pressure within the party due to his handling of a US base relocation in Okinawa and other financial issues.