Socialist Worker

Why did Japan's prime minister resign?

by Martin Percival
Issue No. 2205

The forced resignation of Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama shows the continuing resentment felt by the Japanese people towards the hold that US foreign policy still has over their country.

Hatoyama had been in office for less than a year. He initially had high approval ratings, on the promise that he would remove the US Marine bases from the island of Okinawa, and potentially remove it from Japan entirely.

Since the US-led occupation of Japan, its people have had to endure the hypocrisy of a nation who in the last century committed some of the worst crimes against humanity towards them continuing to use their land for an aggressive foreign policy.

It is written in the Japanese Peace Constitution that they as a nation will not wage war against any other country. However in reality this has been broken by the continuing existence of strategically located US military bases on their land.

The Japanese people showed mass opposition towards the recent wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. But their government's close ties with US foreign policy lead them to sending “non-combatant” troops to Iraq, and sending funds to the campaign in Afghanistan.

There has been fierce opposition to this, and large demonstrations against their government’s relationship with US foreign policy have been common over the past few years.

During his short term Yukio Hatoyama has failed to deliver on his promise to remove the base in Okinawa, seen in his announcement two weeks ago that the agreement with the US over the base’s continuing existence would remain.

This saw the Social Democratic Party leaving the Hatoyama coalition government in protest, meaning his majority in parliament became extremely weak.

On top of this his approval ratings dropped to only 17 percent as protesters came out in large numbers to show their anger at the decision to keep the military base.

Hatoyama no longer had the support necessary to carry on leading the country and was forced to resign. The new prime minister will face the same difficulties as Hatoyama.

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Tue 8 Jun 2010, 19:14 BST
Issue No. 2205
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