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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora