Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who ended five decades of mostly single-party rule when he took power in August, resigned today as public criticism mounted over his handling of U.S. troop deployments in Okinawa.
Below is a timeline outlining Hatoyama’s tenure in office and the tensions that led to his stepping down a week after reversing his position on the controversial Futenma Marine Air Base, two months before a parliamentary election.
Aug. 30, 2009: For the first time in half a century, the Democratic Party of Japan wins a national election to take control of the government, overtaking the rival Liberal Democratic Party. DPJ leader Hatoyama is set to become prime minister. Altering the agreement between Japan and the U.S. on relocating Okinawa’s Futenma base away from the island constitutes a key part of the DPJ’s platform.
Sept. 9, 2009: Hatoyama forms his new cabinet, offering ministerial positions to minority coalition partners who have called for Futenma to be relocated.
Sept. 16, 2009: Hatoyama takes office and calls for a review of Japan’s ties to the U.S.
Oct. 21, 2009: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that unless the Futenma base is relocated within Okinawa as the two governments had agreed, the U.S. will not be able to move 8,000 Marines to Guam.
Nov. 13, 2009: On a trip to Tokyo to meet with Hatoyama, U.S. President Barack Obama says the base issue must be resolved quickly.
Dec. 26. 2009: Hatoyama says the Futenma base can’t be moved to Guam, the Yomiuri newspaper reports.
April 14, 2010: Residents of the small southern Japanese island of Tokunoshima reject the government’s call to accept some of the Futenma base’s functions.
April 19, 2010: A spokesman for Hatoyama says the prime minister will not resign if he fails to resolve the base issue.
April 25, 2010: On Okinawa, 90,000 residents attend a rally to call for the base’s removal from the island.
May 4, 2010: The Futenma base’s functions and personnel will remain at least in part on Okinawa, Hatoyama says.
May 12, 2010: Hatoyama announces he may not meet his self- imposed May 31 deadline to resolve the Futenma relocation issue.
May 23, 2010: Visiting Okinawa, Hatoyama says the Futenma base must stay on the island, citing regional military threats such as North Korea.
May 28, 2010: Hatoyama says he has agreed to keep the U.S. base within Okinawa and move it to the Henoko area as the two countries had previously negotiated.
May 28, 2010: After consumer affairs minister Mizuho Fukushima, the head of the coalition-partner Social Democratic Party, says she will not support Hatoyama on keeping the U.S. base in Okinawa, the prime minister fires the cabinet member.
May 30, 2010: In a Nikkei poll, a record-low 17 percent of Japanese voters say they support Hatoyama as prime minister, a 50-point drop in his approval ratings since the election.
May 31, 2010: Hatoyama tells reporters in Tokyo that he will not quit after the Social Democratic Party leaves the ruling coalition over the Okinawa base issue.
June 2, 2010: Hatoyama announces to party officials that he will step down.