Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to resign

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Yukio Hatoyama in 2009

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned today, following a controversial move regarding a US military base.

Hatoyama told a news conference broadcast nationwide that he will step down after a broken campaign promise to move a US Marine base off the southern island of Okinawa. The decision to resign followed poor poll ratings for Japan's Democratic Party in an upcoming parliamentary election. Members of the party have called for Hatoyama's resignation in order to preserve their chances of victory in the election. He is expected to formally resign before a meeting of party leaders today.

Hatoyama had previously won a landslide election last August, but his approval ratings of late were around 20%. He will likely be succeeded by current Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan. Hatoyama also mentioned a series of money scandals that had plagued him in his decision to resign. Democratic Party secretary-general Ichiro Ozawa, who was involved in the scandals, also agreed to leave when asked by Hatoyama. He will be the fourth Japanese leader in a row to resign without being in office for a year.

Hatoyama had made a deal Friday with US president Barack Obama to retain the Marine base on Okinawa, citing threats to both countries' national security, but the agreement was strongly opposed in Japan. His resignation means that the deal may not go through after all.