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U.S. Base Will Stay on Okinawa

Despite campaign promises and widespread protests, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has finally made the widely unpopular decision to allow the relocation of a U.S. military base on Okinawa.

Hatoyama had been on the fence for months on how to resolve the issue, with his approval rating plunging to less than 25 percent. –JCL

The New York Times:

Apologizing for failing to fulfill a prominent campaign promise, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told outraged residents of Okinawa on Sunday that he has decided to relocate an American air base to the north side of the island as originally agreed upon with the United States.

On his second visit to Okinawa this month, Mr. Hatoyama for first time conceded what Japanese media had been reporting for weeks: that he would accept Washington’s demands and honor a 2006 agreement to move the United States Marine Air Station Futenma to the island’s less populated north.

The decision is a humiliating setback for Mr. Hatoyama on a problem that has consumed his young government and could prove its undoing. Before last year’s historic election victory, he had vowed to move the base off of Okinawa or even out of Japan. But his apparent wavering on the issue helped drive his approval ratings below 25 percent.

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