Escape route to the left
Japan’s prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, today said he would resign just eight months after he took office, after failing to honour election promises to bring sweeping change to domestic policy and fundamentally alter the country’s relations with the US.
The world’s second biggest economy faces yet another period of uncertainty after Hatoyama, whose Democratic party won by a landslide last year, became Japan’s fourth prime minister in as many years to step down after a year or less in power.
In a further blow to the Democrats five weeks before upper house elections, Ichiro Ozawa, the architect of last year’s election victory, will also step down amid a political funding scandal.
I’ve been fascinated with this sea change in Japanese politics, but I have to say I really didn’t think he’d resign. I mean, it was hubris to gamble so much on being able to resolve the Okinawan dispute, but I figured he’d bounce back. One (albeit significant) dip in the polls and he’s out of there? Wow.
It’s unclear who is likely to replace him from the DPJ hierarchy, especially because the party made the good call to send Ozawa out the door with Hatoyama. Later on the Guardian article above goes on to call Hatoyama’s administration a “centre-left experiment,” which about hits in on the head. I don’t know that Hatoyama has utterly squandered the political support he gained in 2009 for his party, but things look shaky for the upcoming House of Councillors election.
I really didn’t expect him to quit that quickly.
In other news, Tipper and Al have called it quits. Now driving along the Al Gore Parkway in East Tennessee will never be the same again!