Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio today was forced to issue a public apology over his failure to convince the US to abandon its military base on Okinawa.
Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) took power in late August after campaigning primarily on opposition to the ruling party’s support of keeping US military presence on the southern island.
But even after the DPJ was swept to power in the biggest power change in Japan since World War 2, the US made it clear that they would not negotiate with the new government, but would retain the base.
The split over the base led to some diplomatic tensions, but Hatoyama finally backed down and has allowed the base to remain. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima was critical of the decision, saying was a betrayal of Hatoyama’s campaign pledge.
The Okinawans are overwhelmingly opposed to the US bases, which take up a significant portion of the crowded island. The DPJ initially threatened to oust the US from the island entirely, though it is clear at this point that this was an empty threat.