Japan's PM Resigns Over U.S. Base Row

Japan's prime minister steps down over U.S. base row.

ByABC News
June 2, 2010, 10:36 AM

TOKYO, June 2, 2010 -- Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Yatoyama resigned today following a bitter battle over the relocation of a U.S. air base on Okinawa that has dominated domestic headlines for months.

Hatoyama sided with residents who have long protested the noise and pollution of the Futenma air base, occupied since the end of World War II.

Supporters wanted the base to stay for the jobs it has created and security.

Last week, shortly following South Korea's claim that North Korea torpedoed one of their ships in neighboring water, Tokyo agreed to allow the base to remain on Okinawa.

The about face by the prime minister sent his approval ratings plummeting in Japan.

The decision is largely in-line with an agreement the U.S. and Japan came to in 2006, under different leaderships for both countries, to move about 8,000 Marines to Guam and the base to a less developed part of Okinawa.

Extra addition newspapers were distributed throughout the capital today following Hatoyama's abrupt announcement.

"The Japanese people are less and less willing to listen to what the Democratic Party (DPJ) says," Hatoyama said as his remarks were broadcast live throughout the country in the morning.

"It is regrettable and I feel responsible," he said.

A successor is expected to be named within days.

Hatoyama listed two reasons for his resignation: "U.S. Futenma air station relocation" and "money and politics." He apologized for employing an aide who violated the political fund control law.

"I never want the DPJ to become implicated in money scandals," he said.

Low approval ratings and the upcoming midterm elections also led to the DPJ leader stepping down.

The last few months of the prime minister's term have been mired in controversy as he fought for Futenma to be moved off the island of Okinawa.