Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Wednesday he would
resign after coming under fire for weak leadership and reneging on a
promise to move a US military base off Okinawa island.
Japan plunged again into political upheaval Wednesday after the
Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, said he would resign amid fierce
public criticism over his handling of a US military base relocation,
just eight months after his party won a landslide election victory.
In another blow to the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ),
Mr. Hatoyama said his powerful general-secretary, Ichiro Ozawa,
would also quit in an attempt to "clean up" the party's image.
Mr. Ozawa, widely seen as the main power broker in the
government, has been embroiled in a political funding scandal since
last spring. Hatoyama, meanwhile, has faced questions over
revelations that he received $170,000 a month from his mother to
support his political activities.
"Since last year's elections, I tried to change politics so that
the people of Japan would be the main characters," Hatoyama said in
a televised address to party members.
But he conceded that he had failed to convince voters that he was
capable of implementing the sweeping policy changes he promised last
year, crucially his determination to end decades of subservience to
US foreign policy.
"That was mainly because if my failings," he said, his eyes
filling with tears. "The public has refused to hear me."
That failure became impossible to ignore last week when he
reneged on a pledge to move the Futenma marine base off the southern
island of Okinawa to another part of Japan.
Under pressure from Washington, he was forced to accept a 2006
agreement to relocate the base from its urban location to a remote
site on the island's north coast - a move that infuriated local
politicians and residents.
Successor faces tough agenda
As Hatoyama delivered his mea culpa, speculation mounted over who
would succeed him. Reports said the DPJ would choose a new leader on
Friday and name a new cabinet next Monday.
Hatoyama's replacement will have to address deepening economic
problems, mend fences with the US over the base dispute, and bring
stability to politics after four years of turmoil and indecision.
Hatoyama is Japan's fourth prime minister in as many years.
The front-runner is Naoto Kan, a combative former health minister
who took on bureaucrats over an HIV-tainted blood scandal in the mid-
1990s, when he belonged to the Liberal Democratic Party. …