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Yukio Hatoyama

Yukio Hatoyama campaigned on a promise of change, but his personal story did not represent a break from Japan's political past. Yukio Hatoyama is the heir to a powerful political dynasty, and is one of the country's wealthiest lawmakers. His grandfather, former Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama, even helped create the powerful Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan almost continuously since its founding in 1955. His father was a foreign minister in the 1970s, and his brother was a cabinet minister in the outgoing government of Prime Minister Taro Aso. Another grandfather founded the world's largest tiremaker, Bridgestone.

Hatoyama never expected to become prime minister. Unlike his brother Kunio who majored in political science in college, Yukio Hatoyama studied engineering at the University of Tokyo. He did advanced studies in the United States at Stanford University, and went on to become a professor. Mr. Hatoyama later followed in his father's footsteps - taking over his parliament seat in Hokkaido. Hatoyama was not even in the political spotlight a few months before the election. Former DPJ head Ichiro Ozawa was seen as the next leader of Japan. A political financing scandal, however, forced Ozawa to resign as party chief, and Mr. Hatoyama stepped in.

Hatoyama was first elected to Japan's House of Representatives in 1986 from the northern island of Hokkaido. He helped found the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the 1990s, but resigned as its leader in 2002. In May 2009, he was chosen to head the Democratic Party of Japan for the second time. Hatoyama, who once belonged to the LDP, has promised "revolutionary change" for the country. He has consistently accused his former party of leaving policy-making to aging politicians who are out of touch with the needs of the Japanese people. The Stanford (California) University-trained engineer has vowed to pursue a new course that would take the world's number-two economy away from what he considers the excesses of US-style capitalism.

The June 1999 "Provisional Version" of the "The Democratic Party of Japan's Basic Policies on Security" states that "The United States maintains a military presence in the Asia-Pacific for regional peace and stability, and is also displaying a willingness to involve itself actively in the region. This nation is in fact playing a major role as a stabilizer of the region. The DPJ believes that the military presence of the United States is important to regional peace and stability, while also bearing in mind the fact that U.S. activities are directed at securing U.S. national interests.... Japan will maintain the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements, which have an important impact on the peace and stability of the region, while managing these arrangements effectively and in a balanced manner through closer consultation with the United States. To do so, we need to further strengthen the relationship in all areas between the U.S. and Japan, which are both democratic nations with mostly shared values.... the DPJ believes that Article 9 of the Constitution does not allow Japan's participation in multinational forces where this entails the exercise of armed force.... Japan needs to break away from the traditional approach whereby equal priority is given to the Ground, Maritime and Air SDF. Instead, it should draw up a budget that takes into account likely threats. In terms of cutting costs, the scope should be widened for on-the-shelf goods, actively introducing open bidding.

"Because the current Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements have left the United States to make the major decisions and Japan has been satisfied with simply being a junior partner, the Japan-U.S. relationship cannot be called an alliance in the true sense of the word. The stance that Japan should take from now on is to engage in close dialogue and consultation with the United States, giving full consideration to Japan's national interests. Obviously, the national interests of Japan and the United States will not always coincide perfectly.... further clarification is needed of the prior consultation system based on the 1960 Exchange of Notes Concerning Article VI of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The extremely narrow interpretation adopted by the Japanese government needs to be rethought. For example, the "use of bases for combat operations conducted from Japan" excludes U.S. naval vessels' "dispatch from bases in Japan" according to the government.... The form and scale of U.S. military bases in Japan needs to be constantly reviewed. In particular, U.S. bases are concentrated in Okinawa, imposing heavy cost and burden on Okinawan people even today, fifty years since the end of the World War II. The DPJ will work actively toward the consolidation and scaling-down of U.S. bases in Okinawa, including the transfer of facilities within Japan and abroad.

When the situation on the Korean Peninsula stabilizes at some point in the future, a major review is likely to take place over the current role of the U.S. forces in South Korea, including their raison d'être. Then, all U.S. forces stationed in East Asia, including Japan, will probably need to be scaled down or re-deployed. Once the Korean Peninsula has stabilized, basic discussion is needed from a medium- to long-term perspective over the presence of U.S. forces in the Far East as well as the roles of U.S. bases in Japan as a base for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

" The Democratic Party of Japan's Platform for Government 2009 stated that the Party would "Develop proactive foreign policy strategies and build a close and equal Japan-U.S. alliance. Establish intra-regional cooperative mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region with the aim of building an East Asian Community. Ensure that North Korea halts development of nuclear weapons and missiles, and make every effort to resolve the abduction issue. Play a proactive role in UN peacekeeping operations, liberalisation of tradeand investment, and the fight against global warming. Take the lead to eradicate nuclear weapons, and remove the threat of terrorism...

"51. Build a close and equal Japan-U.S. alliance to serve as the foundation ofJapan's foreign policy. For this purpose, having developed an autonomousforeign policy strategy for Japan, determine the assignment of functions androles between Japan and the United States, and work positively to fulfilJapan's responsibilities in this regard.Promote liberalization of trade and investment through the conclusion of afree trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. The measures will notinclude any which are detrimental to the safety and stable supply of food,increasing Japan's food self-sufficiency ratio, and the development of Japan'sagricultural industry and its farming villages.Propose the revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. Move inthe direction of re-examining the realignment of the U.S. military forces inJapan and the role of U.S. military bases in Japan.

"52. Strengthen Japan's foreign relations in Asia with the aim of building anEast Asian Community. Make the greatest possible effort to develop relations of mutual trust withChina, South Korea, and other Asian countries. Establish intra-regional cooperative mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region,particularly in such areas as trade, finance, energy, the environment,disaster relief, and measures to control infectious diseases. Take positive measures to promote the conclusion of economic partnershipagreements (EPAs) and free trade agreements (FTAs) with countries of the Asia-Pacific region, as well as countries throughout the world, covering abroad range of fields including investment, labour and intellectual property. The measures will not include any which are detrimental to the safety andstable supply of food, increasing Japan's food self-sufficiency ratio, and the development of Japan's agricultural industry and its farming villages.

53. North Korea must not be permitted to possess nuclear weapons. North Korea's repeated nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches constitutea clear threat to the peace and stability of Japan and the internationalcommunity, and they certainly cannot be permitted.In cooperation with the international community, especially the United States, South Korea, China, and Russia, we will take firm measures,including cargo inspections, to induce North Korea to abandon thedevelopment, possession, and deployment of nuclear, chemical, and biologicalweapons and missiles. The abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea is a violation of Japan'ssovereignty and a serious violation of human rights, and we will make every effort to resolve this issue as a responsibility of the Japanese government.

54. Realise world peace and prosperityAim to build world peace that emphasises the importance of the UnitedNations, and play a significant role by taking the lead on UN reforms andother areas.Play a role in building peace by participating in UN peacekeeping operationsand related efforts. However, such participation must be based on Japan's own judgment and must be placed under democratic control and governance. Carry out anti-piracy operations according to proper procedures in order toprovide security for maritime transport and make an internationalcontribution. Promote liberalisation of trade and investment, in particular by exercisingleadership toward the successful conclusion of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations through such means as improvement of the dispute settlement system and a fundamental review of agricultural and other policies.

55. Take the lead in working for the elimination of nuclear weapons, and remove the threat of terrorism. Work toward a nuclear-free Northeast Asia Make efforts to facilitate the early entry into force of the ComprehensiveNuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the early realisation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.Play a leadership role in the 2010 review conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). To eradicate terrorism and its breeding grounds, study the implementation ofeconomic assistance, strengthening of government institutions, andhumanitarian and reconstruction activities, in conjunction with NGOs, and contribute to the eradication of poverty and to national reconstruction."

Yukio Hatoyama had called for a review of the bases agreement and the closure of the Futenma facility altogether. The Obama administration said it looked forward to working closely and maintaining a strong alliance with the next Japanese government, but that it ruled out renegotiation of the bases agreement that was finalized earlier in 2009. Under the agreement, negotiated with the outgoing Japanese government over several years, the United States would move 8,000 U.S. Marines from the Futenma base on Japan's southern island of Okinawa to the US Pacific island territory of Guam. While in opposition, the Democratic Party of Japan tried to block the country's Indian Ocean refueling mission for US-led forces in Afghanistan, but agreed not to disrupt the mission before it expires in January 2010. The DPJ is expected to maintain a firm policy line on North Korea, especially on the issues of the North's nuclear weapons programs and Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents.

The Hatoyama government got off to a running start. Hatoyama himself and his new Cabinet ministers quickly made the headlines with bold pronouncements of policy changes that clearly marked the arrival of a new administration after more than five decades of nearly unbroken rule by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). For example, the Prime Minister's ambitious pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent and his announcement of intent to develop a "Hatoyama Initiative" to provide increased aid to developing countries on global climate change took the bureaucracy by surprise, with top foreign policy officials recently conceding that they remain "in the dark" about plans and intentions of the Hatoyama's signature priority issue. Soon after being confirmed as Hatoyama's Minister for Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, Seiji Maehara announced his intention to halt the almost 70 percent-complete Yamba Dam project in Gunma prefecture. By doing so, Maehara showed the public that the DPJ was serious about its campaign pledge to halt LDP-era public works projects that it deemed a waste of taxpayer money.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada also made front page news with an immediate directive to his subordinates at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to begin digging up documents related to a "secret" agreement between the United States and past LDP-led administrations on nuclear issues. This, combined with his public pronouncements on creating a more "equal" relationship between the two alliance partners, provided a sharp contrast between the DPJ and its predecessor, which was often accused of being too cozy with the United States.

The Democratic Party of Japan swept to power last year on the promise of change. But prime minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned in June 2010 after losing popular support for reneging on his campaign promise to remove a U.S. military base from Okinawa.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2012 20:14:22 ZULU