Japan's PM resigns over US base failure

Hatoyama said he resigned after just eight months in office, largely because of his broken campaign promise to move a U.S. Marine base off the southern island of Okinawa.

Japan's PM resigns over US base failure

Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Wednesday he resigned after just eight months in office, largely because of his broken campaign promise to move a U.S. Marine base off the southern island of Okinawa.

The prime minister faced growing pressure from within his own party to step down ahead of July's upper house elections.

Hatoyama, a professor-like millionaire with a Ph.D in engineering from Stanford University, is the fourth Japanese prime minister to resign in four years.

The 63-year-old millionaire, the scion of an influential family dubbed "Japan's Kennedys", quit at a meeting of his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

"I will step down," an emotional Hatoyama told party lawmakers at a special meeting in parliament, while also vowing to "create a new DPJ".

"The government's work has not reflected the public's wishes," said Hatoyama, who formally remains as premier until a successor is voted in.

"I apologise to all of you lawmakers here for causing enormous trouble."

The party plans to vote for a new leader on Friday. Finance Minister Naoto Kan, who is a deputy prime minister, was widely tipped to succeed Hatoyama.

The new DPJ chief must then be elected as prime minister by parliament in a vote expected later the same day.

Hatoyama, a Stanford-trained engineering scholar, took power vowing less subservient ties with Washington and closer engagement with Asia.

He promised to move the US base off Okinawa, to ease the burden for locals who have long complained of aircraft noise, pollution and crime associated with a heavy American military presence since World War II.

But, after failing to find an alternative location for the base in Japan, the premier backtracked and decided to keep it on the island, enraging Okinawans and his pacifist coalition partners the Social Democrats.

The left-leaning group quit his three-party coalition on Sunday, weakening the government in parliament's upper house ahead of elections for the chamber expected on July 11, in which the DPJ expects to take a beating.

Hatoyama said he had also asked the DPJ's most influential figure, secretary general Ichiro Ozawa, to quit.



Agencies

Last Mod: 02 Haziran 2010, 15:38
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