Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who ended five decades of single-party rule when he swept to power in August but stumbled when he confronted a longtime ally, the United States, resigned on Wednesday.
Hatoyama quit at a meeting of leaders of the Democratic Party of Japan in Tokyo, becoming the fourth straight Japanese leader to leave after a year or less in office.
“Since last year’s elections, I tried to change politics in which the people of Japan would be the main characters,” he said later at a nationally broadcast news conference. But he conceded that his efforts weren’t understood. “That’s mainly because of my failings.”
Hatoyama ran for the premiership on a campaign platform of maintaining a more equal relationship with the United States, which still enjoys enormous support among most Japanese.
His decision to challenge Washington over the details of a massive military base relocation plan on the island of Okinawa befuddled Japanese and American analysts and government officials alike.
Hatoyama also called for Japan to become more of an “Asian nation,” which sparked concern in Washington that he wanted to move away from the country’s pro-US stance and closer to China.
Analysts and diplomats predicted that Finance Minister Naoto Kan could succeed Hatoyama.
Hatoyama’s resignation came just eight months after his party won a historic election ousting the Liberal Democratic Party, which had dominated Japanese politics for almost half a century.
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