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Not a good day for Hatoyama

May 23, 2010

The DPJ’s agenda just took a major hit:

TOKYO — Japan’s embattled prime minister apologized Sunday to the people of Okinawa that he is ditching his campaign promise to move a U.S. military base off the island – a concession that is likely to further erode his grip on power.

Contrary to American fears that the DPJ was anti-American or going to change everything in Japan, it turns out that security interests with a major ally do not lend themselves to campaign-promise gambits. One wonders if the ongoing drama in Korea over the sinking of the Cheonan has influenced the base negotiations. Nevertheless , Hatoyama brought this on himself. He could have avoided making the Okinawa bases into a major national political issue. Now, instead of letting the negative effects of an important national security decision remain localized, he made an undeliverable promise that will only undermine his government.

Under most circumstances, governments prefer to insulate difficult foreign policy issues from the vicissitudes of public opinion. This is also something of a reminder of why it will be a long time, if ever, that a Ukrainian government will elect a leader who will decisively remove Russia’s presence from Sevastopol. ..

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