Japan's unpopular prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, announced his resignation on Monday after less than a year in office. Fukuda, in a hastily arranged news conference on Monday evening, said he was stepping down to avoid a "political vacuum" at the head of the world's second-largest economy.
"My decision is based on what I thought the future political situation ought to be," Fukuda said.
The 72-year-old has suffered from chronically low support ratings as he presided over a parliament split between the ruling party and the opposition.
The move extends Japan's stretch of political instability of recent years. Fukuda's predecessor, Shinzo Abe, resigned last September after barely a year in office.
Fukuda did not specify when the resignation would take effect, but presumably he will stay in office until the ruling Liberal Democratic Party can select a new leader to put before parliament for a vote.