The Cabinet of outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan resigned en masse at its final meeting Tuesday morning.
Kan has held the premiership for 449 days as of Tuesday, being in office for the 19th-longest period among the 32 postwar prime ministers.
By remaining in the post nearly three months after announcing his intention to resign, Kan kept his administration alive longer than the shorter-lived cabinets of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leader of the then-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and those who succeeded him as prime minister.
Nonetheless, Kan's administration, with its internal turmoil, has left deep wounds in both domestic and diplomatic affairs.
At its final meeting, the Cabinet adopted an informal statement made by Kan for its mass resignation.
The statement cites the Cabinet's achievements, such as mapping out a plan for integrated social security and tax system reforms; and realizing the "stable cooling" of reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Kan apologized to the public, saying, "We are very sorry, from the viewpoint that we didn't necessarily deal with issues well enough."
On the other hand, the statement praised the Cabinet's efforts, saying, "While letting posterity judge how we are viewed in a historic light, all members of the Cabinet, including me, have dealt with issues sincerely and with all our might."
On the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear crisis, the statement said: "There still remain many challenges. We hope the new Cabinet pushes further efforts for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, and bringing the nuclear accident under control."
Recalling dealing with the March 11 disaster, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, "I get the impression that I served as chief cabinet secretary for about three years."
Tatsuo Hirano, minister for reconstruction in response to the March 11 disaster, said: "A lot of things still need to be done. To be honest, we haven't reached the stage where we can say we did this or that."
At a press conference held after the meeting, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the prime minister-elect, answered jokingly when asked whether he has met his family since being elected DPJ head: "I haven't. I have to start by making a coalition at home first. When I phoned home, the answering machine was on."