Japanese prime minister expected to resign Friday

By the Associated Press | August 25, 2011 | 11:50 PM EDT

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan, right, listens to Agricultural Minister Michihiko Kano, left, at the Cabinet meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Friday Aug. 26, 2011. Japanese press reports said on Friday the unpopular prime minister is expected to announce his resignation later in the day. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's unpopular leader Naoto Kan is expected to resign Friday, fulfilling a promise to step down after parliament approved two key pieces of legislation.

That would set the stage for a leadership election Monday within Kan's ruling Democratic Party of Japan and a new prime minister — Japan's sixth since 2006.

The two bills were approved Friday and local media reports said Kan would resign at a party gathering later in the day.

Potential successors include former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Trade Minister Banri Kaieda.

The 64-year-old Kan has seen his approval ratings tumble amid a perceived lack of leadership after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis.