23 May 2010

Japanese Leader Backtracks on Okinawa Bases

The Japanese Prime Minister made kicking the US base off of Okinawa the center of his campaign platform. Now he's being forced to backtrack from that promise, and apologizing to the public for it.

Japan's embattled prime minister apologized Sunday to the people of Okinawa for ditching his campaign promise to move a U.S. military base off the island, a concession likely to further erode his grip on power.

During his party's campaign for last year's elections that swept him to power, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had promised to relocate U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station off Okinawa, perhaps even out of Japan.

But he has recently conceded the government will be going back to an earlier plan, or a slightly modified version of that plan, chiseled by the former governing party: Building another base on Okinawa, but in a coastal area less crowded than the residential sector where Futenma is now located.

"The relocation of Futenma will have to stay in Okinawa," Hatoyama said in a meeting with Okinawa prefectural chief Hirokazu Nakaima. "I apologize from the bottom of my heart for the confusion that I have caused the people of Okinawa in not being able to keep my promise."

By: Brant

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