Friday, June 4, 2010

He's our Roh

Hatoyama bows out. 

The New York Times has a good article on the how's and why's behind the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama:
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan, who swept into power last year with bold promises to revamp the country, then faltered over broken campaign pledges to remove an American base from Okinawa, announced Wednesday that he would step down.

Mr. Hatoyama faced growing pressure to quit, eight months after taking office, amid criticism that he had squandered an electoral mandate to change Japan’s sclerotic postwar political order.

Since taking office in September, he had come to be seen as an indecisive leader. This image was reinforced by his wavering and eventual backtracking on the base issue, which set off huge demonstrations on Okinawa and drove his approval ratings below 25 percent.
Indeed, there are many parallels between the left-of-center Mr Hatoyama and the even more left-of-center Roh Moohyun. Both were elected by a bloc that is opposed to the presence of large US military bases, but they themselves were leaders who saw the importance of playing nice with Washington in the interest of national security.

The result was ham-handedness on the high-wire, with disastrous results: Hatoyama's premiership is over and his party is hobbled, while Roh's guaranteed five-year term so a dangerous erosion of US-ROK relations that still haven't been fully repaired.

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