Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyamo announced on Wednesday that he will
resign after only eight months
in office. Here are some likely factors
in the decision.
- The U.S. Military Base Controversy
Though he came into office pledging to remove the massive U.S. Marine
Corps base on Okinawa, Hatoyama reneged, promising the U.S. to keep the
base. The New York Times' Martin Fackler writes, "Mr.
Hatoyama took power with vows to challenge the bureaucracy’s grip on
postwar governing and revive Japan’s economy. Instead, his inexperienced
government appeared to become consumed by the issue of the Okinawa base
... Since taking office in September, he had come to be seen as an
indecisive leader. This image was reinforced by his wavering and
eventual backtracking on the base issue, which set off huge
demonstrations on Okinawa and drove his approval ratings below 25
- Too Much Pressure From Obama Steve Clemons writes,
"Hatoyama could not withstand the pressure from Obama -- who gave
Hatoyama the kind of icy treatment that the White House has also been
trying to give Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The problem is
Hatoyama wilted, and Netanyahu seems to be thriving." Obama is guilty of
"clearly smashing the legacy and political position of Japan Prime
Minister Yukio Hatoyama" by forcing Hatoyama to take positions wildly
unpopular with his Japanese constituents.
- Promised Too Much,
Delivered Too Little The Associated Press' Yuri Kageyama recounts,
"Sweeping into office just eight months ago by defeating the long-ruling
conservatives, Hatoyama captured the imagination of many Japanese
voters with his promises to bring change and transparency to government,
as the country grappled with economic stagnation and an aging,
shrinking population. ... 'He could not live up to the huge
expectations,' said Tetsuro Kato, professor of politics at Hitotsubashi
University in Tokyo. 'He just proved himself to be a rich kid without
experience and leadership skills. The expectations were so great, the
disappointment was also great."
- Just Plain Incompetent
Japan Security Watch's Kyle Mizokami declares, "He
was never fit for the office of prime minister, and possibly any
leadership position at all. ... his indecisiveness, naivete, lack of
leadership skills, inability to manage his cabinet, and general
incompetence all played a role." The U.S. base "proved an unnecessary
distraction from the real problems Japan faces, such as a rising China,
North Korea, Japan’s economic woes, and Japan’s many social problems.
That resolution of them has been delayed and the public further jaded in
their view of Japanese politicians is also his fault."
Constant Turmoil of Japanese Politics After the last Prime Minister
resignation in September 2008, the New York Times' Martin Fackler wrote, "a lack
of strong leadership has plagued Japan, even as it has grappled with a
host of new problems, including the rise of neighboring China and a
slowdown in its $4.7 trillion economy. The resignations of both Mr.
Fukuda and Mr. Abe, who led short-lived, unpopular governments, have
highlighted the lack of stability here since the popular Junichiro
Koizumi stepped down [in 2006]."
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