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HOME  > Past issues  > 2010 June 30 - July 6  > Time to create politics that represents the public interests
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2010 June 30 - July 6 [POLITICS]

Time to create politics that represents the public interests

June 3, 2010
“Reliable policies promoted by the ruling parties have not always been recognized as such by citizens. They have gradually lost their ability to listen to us,” said Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio during his resignation speech on June 2.

However, it was indeed the prime minister himself who has lost the ability to listen to the people’s demands. The U.S. Futenma base issue has clearly illustrated this.

In October 2009, a month after the start of the Hatoyama Cabinet, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Japan and stated that there will be no return of the Futenma base site without the construction of a new U.S. base in the Henoko district of Okinawa’s Nago City. Since then, the prime minister started looking for an alternative construction site within Okinawa without listening to Okinawans’ demands.

While pledging to bring this issue to final settlement by the end of May, Hatoyama failed to exercise the leadership needed in his cabinet to carry out his election promise: to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to either outside Okinawa or outside Japan.

Seven months after he took office, the prime minister finally visited Okinawa for the first time and stated that he had no choice but to ask the residents there to shoulder another base burden.

Hatoyama ended up not only returning to the former government’s plan to reclaim the waters off Henoko to construct a new base. The bilateral agreement he made with the U.S. government is worse than the initial plan because it includes the relocation of U.S. forces’ exercises from Okinawa to Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture as well as Self-Defense Force bases in mainland Japan.

In the area of people’s living conditions, Prime Minister Hatoyama also betrayed voters’ expectations for the establishment of new policies that reflect public demand. Contrary to his favorite phrase that he wants to “protect human lives,” Hatoyama promoted policies that harm them, such as keeping the discriminatory medical insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and older as well as leaving many loopholes in the Worker Dispatch Law.

After all was said and done, who the prime minister listened to were the voices of the U.S. government and the Japanese business circles. As he repeatedly emphasized the phrase “relationship of trust with the U.S.” in his resignation speech, his concern was to receive the trust of the U.S. government.

If we are to draw a lesson from Hatoyama’s resignation, it is that the only way to change the current political situation is to set up a government that is capable of representing the people’s voices to the U.S. and the business circles. An advance of the Japanese Communist Party in the upcoming House of Councilors election will pave the way for establishing a new course in Japanese politics.
- Akahata, June 3, 2010
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