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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hatoyama finds SDP joining his foes


Staff writer

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's administration found itself in an increasingly tight spot Monday after the Social Democratic Party bolted from the ruling bloc and then turned around and signaled it would side with a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet.

Speaking to reporters a day after the SDP officially announced its departure from the Democratic Party of Japan-led alliance, Hatoyama indicated he plans to continue leading the nation despite mounting demands for his resignation.

"We need to have faith and keep going. It all boils down to trying our best to work for the people and regaining a steady hand on politics," he said.

The SDP's departure came after Hatoyama dismissed its leader, Mizuho Fukushima, as consumer affairs minister on Friday for refusing to sign a Cabinet resolution to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture.

"Unfortunately, we differ in basic views over national security," Hatoyama said.

But with the most recent opinion polls by major newspapers indicating the Cabinet support rate has fallen below 20 percent, the administration is likely to experience further turbulence in the days ahead.

Speaking to reporters Sunday in Hokkaido, Sadakazu Tanigaki, president of the Liberal Democratic Party, directly called for Hatoyama to step down over his handling of the Futenma relocation, which will effectively follow a 2006 accord the U.S. reached with the then-ruling LDP.

"The relationship of trust with Okinawa has been broken. The only resolution is for (Hatoyama) to step down or to seek the voter's response by holding a snap general election," Tanigaki said.

The opposition camp, with the LDP as the main force, plans to submit a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet in the Lower House.

Earlier in the day, Fukushima indicated that if submitted, the SDP would side with it.

"It would be quite difficult to oppose a no-confidence motion," she said.

The DPJ holds a solid majority in the Lower House, so a no-confidence motion demanding his resignation or a dissolution of the chamber would have virtually no chance of passing.

But some DPJ members, including heavyweight Kozo Watanabe, have started calling for Hatoyama to step down before the Upper House election in July, clouding the unpopular prime minister's fate.

With only two weeks before the current Diet session wraps up, the DPJ appears desperate to pass as many bills as possible ahead of the July campaign.

Defying fierce resistance from the opposition camp, the DPJ planned Monday night to ram a bill through the Lower House to revise the postal privatization process.

The bill, a core aim of the DPJ's remaining coalition partner, Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), would effectively roll back the postal reform plan initiated by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of the LDP.



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