In a statement issued today by the State Department, the United States ruled out holding negotiations with the new Japanese government about a deal it had negotiated with the previous government to pay billions of dollars in return for a slight decrease in US troop presence on the island of Okinawa. Instead they say they hope the new officials will “moderate” their position.
The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) took power this week in a landslide election victory over the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and ran on a platform of condemn the LDP for, among other things, letting the US dictate its foreign policy.
Japan’s incoming Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has called for a review of the bases agreement, as well as a broader review of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States and the complete closure of the Okinawa base. The party has also promised to end the Japanese military’s role in the Afghan War by the end of the year.
The LDP had held a virtually unbroken hold on power in Japan for over 50 years, and analysts are calling the vote the most significant shift of power in the nation since the end of World War 2. Though the DPJ has said it wants to maintain friendly relations with the US, it seems unlikely the US is going to take its call for a more even-handed relationship lying down.