Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's cabinet resigned Wednesday to clear the way for a vote in parliament to formally install the nation's new leader, Shinzo Abe.
Noda's fall ends more than three years at the helm for the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan and brings back the more conservative, pro-big business Liberal Democratic Party, which governed Japan for most of the post-World War II era until voters fed up with scandals and Japan's sagging economy tossed them out in 2009.
Abe led the party to victory in elections Dec. 16. He was to be named prime minister later Wednesday. He was also prime minister in 2006 and 2007.
CARACAS, Venezuela - Vice President Nicolas Maduro surprised Venezuelans with a Christmas Eve announcement that President Hugo Chavez is up and walking two weeks after cancer surgery in Cuba, but the news did little to ease uncertainty surrounding the leader's condition.
It was the first time a top Venezuelan government official had confirmed talking personally with Chavez since the Dec. 11 operation, his fourth cancer surgery since 2011. But the statement inspired more questions, given the sparse information the government has provided so far about the president's cancer.
Venezuelan officials have said Chavez might not return in time for his Jan. 10 inauguration after he was reelected to a six-year term. Opposition leaders say that the constitution does not allow his swearing-in to be postponed, and that new elections should be called.
MOSCOW - Russia's deputy prime minister for social affairs has warned President Vladimir V. Putin that a proposed ban on adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens would violate several international treaties as well as an agreement on adoptions ratified earlier this year between the Russian government and the U.S.
The warning, made by Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets in a letter, quickly widened a split over the measure at the highest levels of the Russian government. Russian lawmakers are pushing the ban as retaliation for a new U.S. law punishing Russian citizens accused of violating human rights. - AP
In Ukraine, a police helicopter belonging to the Interior Ministry crashed shortly after takeoff Tuesday, killing three crew members and two ground staff, officials said.