News / Asia

    Failed Promise Pushes Japanese PM to Resign

    Last year, he pledged to move a controversial U.S. military base off the southern island of Okinawa, a pledge he could not keep.

    Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's resignation is in large part the result of promising too much. Last year, he pledged to move a controversial U.S. military base off the southern island of Okinawa, a pledge he could not keep.

    Until Wednesday, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had vowed to stay on as head of the government and the Democratic Party of Japan.

    Mr. Hatoyama promised on Tuesday to face this "national crisis" head on, and do what is best for the country.

    But Wednesday morning, he abruptly announced his resignation. Although he and the DPJ won a historic election last year with 70 percent of the country behind them, he suffered from party funding scandals and a perception of inconsistency. The latest polls show just 17 percent of the Japanese supported him.

    The catalyst for his resignation is his announcement last month that Japan would stick with an agreement to keep a controversial U.S Marine base on the island of Okinawa. After months of discussions with the United States, Mr. Hatoyama concluded it was not feasible to move the base now. That decision was influenced in part by fears that North Korea would become more belligerent and threaten security in North Asia.

    During last year's election campaign, Mr. Hatoyama promised to move Marine Corps Air Station Futenma off the island entirely.

    There are several U.S. bases on Okinawa but Futenma is the most contentious because the city of Ginowan surrounds it. Residents complain about the aircraft noise and worry about the risk of crashes.

    Mr. Hatoyama's apology to Okinawans for not keeping his promise did little to quiet criticism. The Social Democrats pulled out of his three-party coalition government after Mr. Hatoyama dismissed its leader for refusing to sign on to the Futenma decision.

    Political analyst Minoru Morita says the fallout from the Futenma crisis is just beginning.

    He says Mr. Hatoyama has lost the trust of the Japanese public. The prime minister has been labeled "a liar" and will now become a disgraced leader.

    Morita calls Mr. Hatoyama's campaign promise to move Futenma "ill advised." He says the prime minister spoke too soon without consulting the United States and without a proper plan in place.

    Morita expects the DPJ will suffer a serious defeat in the Upper House election next month, where 43 party members are up for re-election.

    He says the last election showed the Japanese are fed up with politics as usual. If this becomes an election about which party stands for trust, then the DPJ is in deep trouble.

    Professor Masaaki Gabe disagrees. He teaches international relations at the University of the Ryukyus on Okinawa. He says Okinawans may be outraged over Mr. Hatoyama's broken promise but Futenma remains a largely local issue.

    He says voters in other prefectures will not be thinking about Futenma when they vote. But the DPJ will have a tough time gaining support in Okinawa again.

    About half the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan are on Okinawa, the main island of Japan's smallest prefecture. Okinawans have grown frustrated with the bases, which take up large amounts of land, and with problems such as crime caused by troops.

    After years of negotiations, Tokyo and Washington in 2006 agreed to close Futenma and move its operations to an isolated part of northern Okinawa. In addition, about 8,000 Marines are to move to the U.S. Pacific island of Guam over the next few years. Okinawa residents, however, were not satisfied with the deal.

    The United States is Japan's closest diplomatic and military ally. While Washington acknowledges the burden on Okinawa, it rejected the idea of moving Futenma off the island entirely, saying that would hamper its ability to train and transport the Marines remaining there. And the U.S. argued that changing the Futenma plan would mean it would be several more years before any Marines could be moved to Guam.

    Mr. Hatoyama's sudden resignation puts the future of Futenma in question again. He is the fourth Japanese prime minister in four years to quit.

    You May Like

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora