Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why Didn't Hatoyama Resign before the US-Japan Communique?

Premier steps down after damaging Japan's national interests; we need to fix this with a general election for both houses

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama gave two reasons for his resignation. First was the Futenma military base problem and the departure of the Social Democrats. Second was the money and politics scandal.

These are extremely selfish reasons. If he's going to resign, why not do it before the release of the US-Japan joint communique? His timing raises a lot of questions and a lot of problems: He resigned after causing damage to Japan's national interests. It's really quite a bad move.
On the afternoon of June 1, US Ambassador to Japan John Roos said Japan and the US would work together to move Marine Air Station Futenma (in Ginowan, Okinawa) as quickly as possible. He also said that Japan's prime minister represents the Japanese people. This was interpreted as a request for Japan to fulfill its part of the agreement even if a different prime minister were in charge. Some people say this killed any chance of bringing the Social Democrats back into the fold by revisiting the US-Japan agreement.

Hatoyama governed without clear ideas. He did not reflect on his haphazard policies or his egotistical concerns. He should have apologized for mishandling the government. He governed like a reed swaying in the wind, without definite ideas. If no one in the Democratic Party of Japan is willing to reflect on or criticize this fundamental problem, then the party is unfit to rule. We can't allow the DPJ to quietly sweep all its sins under the rug.

The normal course for democratic politics in the wake of Hatoyama's resignation would be to appoint a new prime minister and then dissolve the lower house so that an election of both houses could take place on the same day. If the DPJ is going to present a new government to run Japan, it should do so resolutely.