Why Prime Minister Hatoyama resigns abruptly?

16:18, June 03, 2010      

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With Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama having served less than nine months in office, plunging approval ratings caused by his bungled handling of a plan to relocate a U.S. marine base in Okinawa and political funding scandals involving both him and his deputy -- Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa – left DPJ little choice but to find a new leader as his peers and the public had lost faith in him.

The DPJ will choose his successor on Friday, June 4 and the pick will be Japan’s next prime minister. And a new cabinet will likely be formed on next Monday or Tuesday (June 7 or June 8) if all goes smoothly.

Hatoyama made an explicit pledge during his electoral campaign to move the Futenma US Air Base out of Okinawa. He apparently underestimated the intricacy of the issue and failed to fully understand the reality on the diplomatic front, thus leaving him an unrealistic fantasy.

On the relocation issue of the Futenma U.S. Air Base, Yokio Hatoyama committed to moving it at least out of Okinawa prefecture at a party leadership meeting prior to the national election last August. Afterwards, in an agreement reached prior to the establishment of the three-party coalition government in Sept. 2009, Hatoyama did not capitalize on the opportunity to retreat from the high-sounding commitment.

As a matter of fact, Hatoyama eventually had “no choice” but to relocate the Futenma Marine Airbase on the island. Consequently, reneging on his promise may imperil his DPJ’s chance in election for the upper house of parliament slated for early July. And it is entirely possible for the DPJ to lose these elections.

At a press conference held on December 25, 2009, he set forth a time limit for the relocation of the Futenma US Airbase at the end of May 2010, including the relocation of its facilities. Media comments here noted that an easy commitment Prime Minister Hatoyama made has resulted in a lethal wound for him.

In addition to going back on his own words, Hatoyama also promised that the new relocation program would gain the understanding of the people of Okinawa, the United States and the ruling coalition partners. As a matter of fact, the deal was reached only by Japan and the United States, So the people of Okinawa raged, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), one of the coalition partners, was also in opposition to a joint statement. So, “when the head of the government breaks his promise to the people of Okinawa, he could only end public trust in politics,” said a news analyst.

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