Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 10:45:15 PM EST
After only 8 months, Hatoyama's popularity dipped for multiple reasons to 19 to 20 percent from over 70 percent initially. His attempt to move the US marine base off Okinawa cost him badly too. I will give you some background FWIW:
1. Corruption charges
Never-ending corruption charges were thrown at Hatoyama and the party strongman Ozawa. The charges were originally brought up by the opposition, but the prosecution took particular interest in Ozawa and worked very hard to find slush funds, which did not exist. In Hatoyama's case, the money was a gift from his mother, a very wealthy woman. The mass media, both conservative and progressive (?) kept bringing up the issue for the past 8 months and the public bought into it, somewhat.
There is a 2006 agreement under which we are supposed to give Americans more air strips in exchange for closing of an unsafe air strip in Okinawa. Hatoyama tried, a bit half-heartedly, to re-negotiate the deal to relocate the base to the mainland. The only problem is that marines do not want to move out of Okinawa, where they feel more "comfortable" (i.e., like Cuba before the revolution), at the expense of Okinawa feeling more "uncomfortable". Obama and Gates seem to hate Hatoyama's decision to withdraw from the Afghan operation, and showed muscle with us over the relocation.
We Japanese are simply unable to spend any meaningful amount of time confronting Americans. Mainstream media who believe in the alliance were appalled, and even rejoiced, at watching Hatoyama denied a tete-a-tete with Obama at the non-proliferation summit in Washington. (What was the point of refusing to meet with the representative from the only country which suffered the blast, not once but twice at the "non-proliferation" stunt anyway?) Hatoyama finally gave in and accepted the 2006 agreement. This led to withdrawal from the coalition of leftish Social Democrats.
Once again, Okinawa was left behind, and America-loving commentators laughed hard at Hatoyama, who "gave Okinawa too much hope". Or was it too much a change?
3. Way forward
Democrats will do better in the up-coming election anyway now that Hatoyama and Ozawa left. But I am not sure about how much longer Democrats can hold on to power.