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Posts Tagged ‘row’

Japan’s envoy to Moscow returns home over island row

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2010 at 5:13 am

S.Korea hopes to settle currency row at G20 summit

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2010 at 4:41 am

China calls on the US to be cautious over maritime row

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

HANOI, Oct 30, 2010 (AFP) – China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Saturday called on the United States to be “cautious” when discussing the disputed East China Sea islands that have triggered a feud with Japan.

The comments — made to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during talks in Vietnam’s capital — came after she told an Asian summit that maritime rows should be settled by international law.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi on October 30, 2010. AFP

China wants to handle such disputes bilaterally with its neighbours, a forum in which it has more clout.

Clinton’s comments came amid a serious dispute between China and Japan triggered by the September 8 arrest of a Chinese trawler captain near disputed East China Sea islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

“Yang underlined China’s solemn position on the issue of the Diaoyu islands, calling on the United States to be cautious on this highly sensitive issue,” the Chinese foreign ministry said on its website.

The minister also urged Clinton to “respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to not make irresponsible remarks.”

Source: SGGP

Clinton weighs into disputes as Japan-China row roils summit

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2010 at 10:10 am

HANOI, Oct 30, 2010 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday joined an Asia-Pacific summit where she weighed into the issue of maritime disputes, which have triggered a serious rift between China and Japan.

Hopes that Asia’s big powers would begin to heal their two-month feud, centred on resource-rich East China Sea islands, dominated the talks in Vietnam’s capital where the row erupted again on Friday.

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan (L), US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (2nd L), Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (2nd R) and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key talk before a family photo on the sidelines of the 17th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Hanoi on October 30, 2010. AFP

On a day of conflicting messages Japan initially said their foreign ministers had made a promising start with an agreement to improve ties, but China then angrily accused its rival of making false statements.

Hopes for a formal meeting between Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao evaporated, but the pair held brief discussions on the East Asia Summit sidelines Saturday, Japan said.

“They will continue making efforts on promoting a strategic, mutually beneficial relationship,” Japan’s deputy chief cabinet secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama told reporters.

“They also said that they will have an opportunity to talk longer in future,” he said. “They shared an understanding that it was disappointing the bilateral summit did not take place this time.”

Japan and China have been feuding since the September 8 arrest of a Chinese trawler captain after a collision with Japanese coastguard vessels near the disputed East China Sea island chain.

China had on Friday also hit out at Clinton’s remarks this week that the islands, known as the Diaoyus in China and Senkakus in Japan, fall within the scope of the US-Japan security alliance.

“The Chinese government and people will never accept any word or deed that includes the Diaoyu Islands within the scope of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

However, Clinton told the summit Saturday that maritime rows should be settled by international law, in defiance of China’s call to handle them directly with its neighbours.

“The United States has a national interest in the freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce,” she said, repeating a US stand in the presence of China’s premier Wen.

“And when disputes arise over maritime territory, we are committed to resolving them peacefully based on customary international law.”

But she also sounded a softer note, saying she was encouraged by China’s steps to enter into discussions with the Southeast Asian bloc about a legally enforceable code of conduct on South China Sea disputes where some have claims.

Clinton also said she had “assurances” from her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on China’s policy toward exports of rare earth minerals, which Beijing has been accused of restricting.

The East Asia Summit is a forum for dialogue on strategic, political and economic issues involving the 10-member Southeast Asian bloc as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The meeting was also expected to tackle the issue of “currency wars” and the resulting heavy capital inflows that risk destabilising emerging Asian economies.

The Asian Development Bank chief warned in Hanoi on Saturday that emerging economies must carefully manage the inflow of hot money, and avoid remedies that could create further problems.

“Authorities are watching asset prices and exchange rates carefully, with several beginning to use well-targeted capital controls to limit speculation,” said Haruhiko Kuroda.

“Care must be taken, however, not to create distortions.”

The United States and Russia were to be formally invited to join the 16 members of the East Asia Summit at its annual gathering, in what analysts say is a blow to Chinese attempts to diminish US influence in the region.

US membership is seen as part of its strategic return to Southeast Asia to balance China’s growing influence in the region, where Beijing’s more aggressive stance in recent times has unnerved its smaller neighbours.

Source: SGGP

Ecuador urges meet to calm Colombia-Venezuela row

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2010 at 7:18 am

Ecuador has called for a presidential summit of the Unasur group of South American nations to deal with the diplomatic breakdown between Bogota and Caracas over Colombian rebels allegedly operating in Venezuela.

“We invite the heads of state to meet so they can directly take on and deal with the issues we’ve addressed in this meeting,” Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said after four hours of closed-door discussions with his Unasur colleagues.

A leadership summit of the Union of South American Nations, he added, “will be very useful to Colombia and Venezuela in paving the road” to a peaceful resolution of their diplomatic crisis.

The Unasur foreign ministers meeting was the latest step in a diplomatic row stemming from Colombia’s claim that some 1,500 guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) — both of which have been fighting Bogota for decades — are now operating from Venezuela.

A guard of honour stands next to the coffins of nine navy soldiers during their funeral in Bogota, Colombia after they were killed by Marxist FARC rebels in the south of the country.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said his government had requested the meeting to respond to the “grave threats and grave attacks” on it by the government of President Alvaro Uribe of neighboring Colombia.

While accusing the Uribe government of “slander, manipulation, lies” against Venezuela and its President Hugo Chavez, Maduro said he would propose ways “we can retake the path of peace.”

Colombia’s Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said he would appeal to his South American colleagues for help in preventing Colombian rebel forces from taking refuge in Venezuela, or elsewhere.

“Colombia comes with a clear willingness to ask for an efficient cooperation mechanism so that neither the FARC nor the ELN, nor any criminal group can be present in Venezuelan territory, with the collusion of the authorities, or in any part of the world,” Bermudez said.

However, he said he did not have high expectations for the Unasur meeting.

Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia after denouncing its charges as a pretext for “armed aggression.”

Bermudez said his country “has lots of evidence, lots of information” on the guerrilla presence in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced he would travel to Caracas and Bogota on August 6 for talks with Chavez and Uribe as well as with Colombia’s president-elect Juan Manuel Santos, who takes office August 7.

Uribe, however, complained that Lula was approaching the crisis as if it were merely a conflict of personalities.

The Brazilian leader is “ignoring the threat for Colombia and the continent that the presence of FARC terrorists in (Venezuela) represents,” he said Thursday in a statement.

“The only solution that Colombia accepts is to not allow the presence of the terrorists… on Venezuelan territory,” Uribe said.

Separately, the head of US Southern Command urged Venezuela to investigate charges that leftist guerrilla leaders operate from its territory.

“There is no reason to assume that it is not valid,” General Douglas Fraser said in a talk Thursday at a Washington think-tank.

Fraser, who is responsible for all US military activities in Latin America, said the United States was looking at the evidence, saying it was “an allegation that needs to be treated seriously.”

Unasur was set up in May 2008 to foster regional cooperation on security issues. It includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam and Uruguay.

In November of last year, the group met on an earlier diplomatic rupture between Colombia and Venezuela, this time over a US-Colombian military base agreement that Chavez complained was destabilizing the region

Source: SGGP

Payoff row looms as spill-tainted BP boss set to leave

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2010 at 7:17 am

The expected imminent departure of BP chief executive Tony Hayward threatened to create a new transatlantic row over a payout up to 18.5 million dollars following the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

News reports said Hayward could be cut loose by the British energy giant as early as Tuesday, when BP announces its quarterly earnings and battles to rebuild its reputation amid the worst environmental disaster in US history.

Hayward, whose leadership and gaffes have undermined the company during the cleanup, could get a payoff and pension package worth around 12 million pounds (14.4 million euros, 18.5 million dollars), The Times and the Financial Times newspapers reported in London.

The expected imminent departure of BP chief executive Tony Hayward threatened to create a new transatlantic row over a payout up to 18.5 million dollars following the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

In Washington, a key Democratic lawmaker called on BP to withhold any big payouts to the chief executive.

“BP should be dedicating its resources to compensating the residents of the Gulf Coast who are the victims of this tragedy, not handing out multi-million-dollar golden parachutes,” Representative Ed Markey said.

“At a time when BP should be devoting every possible resource to ending the spill, cleaning up the Gulf and fully compensating the residents who have had their livelihoods impacted, I find it extremely troubling that BP’s board would consider providing such a large severance package to Mr. Hayward,” he added.

BP has agreed to set up a 20-billion-dollar fund to pay for the Gulf clean-up and compensation, as it works to plug the BP well that ruptured in the April explosion and sinking of its leased Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers.

Hayward has drawn criticism in recent months from US President Barack Obama — who said he would have fired him — and other senior US figures and Gulf residents over his handling of the aftermath of the disaster.

The White House Monday warned BP that any decision to replace Hayward would not change its obligation to clean up the Gulf of Mexico and compensate victims.

BP said however there was no decision on Hayward, whose string of public relations gaffes during the crisis included telling reporters “I want my life back” and joining a yacht race as Gulf residents battled the massive oil spill.

“BP confirms that no final decision has been made on these matters,” a spokesman for the energy giant said. “Any decisions will be announced as appropriate.”

Hayward’s reported payoff would be the equivalent of one year’s salary plus a guaranteed pension for the 53-year-old who started his career with the firm 28 years ago and took over as chief executive in 2007.

A decision on Hayward’s future is likely ahead of the release of BP’s second-quarter results Tuesday, which are expected to reveal a 30-billion-dollar provision for funding the disaster.

Britain’s Sky News television, citing sources, said Hayward was likely to be proposed for a non-executive role on the board of TNK-BP, a joint venture in Russia.

Meanwhile the BBC said Hayward’s departure would be in October.

He is expected to be replaced by Bob Dudley, who grew up in Mississippi and is now in charge of the oil cleanup operation. BP has said Dudley has a “deep appreciation and affinity for the Gulf Coast.”

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the US pointman on the crisis, said Monday that efforts to kill the damaged well for good would not likely start before next week.

Originally expected as early as Tuesday, Allen said BP had given a “refined and revised” timeline as it redeployed vessels and personnel following a recent storm in the region.

Even if BP then manages to kill the well, Allen warned there was “the possibility that shore will be impacted I guess for the next four to six weeks.”

The ruptured wellhead was sealed on July 15 with a giant cap, which for the first time in three months halted the flow of oil into the sea. But up to four million barrels (170 million gallons) of crude is already estimated to have spewed into the Gulf.

Toxic crude has washed up on the shores of all five US states on the Gulf Coast and vital tourism, fishing and oil industries in the region have been hit hard.

BP faces hundreds of pending lawsuits into the cause of the April 20 rig blast that should determine eventual liability.

Source: SGGP

Venezuela breaks ties with Colombia over rebel row

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 at 3:16 am

CARACAS, July 22 (AFP) – Venezuela has broken off diplomatic ties with Colombia in a worsening row over accusations from Bogota that it is providing a safe haven to hundreds of leftist guerrillas.

“I announce with a tear in the heart: Venezuela breaks off from this moment all relations with the government of Colombia,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told reporters.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez greets journalists at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. AFP photo

His foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, immediately followed that statement by issuing a 72-hour deadline for Colombia to withdraw its diplomats from Venezuela and close its embassy. Venezuela would also close its embassy in Bogota, he added.

The announcement marked a fresh spike in tensions between the South American neighbors, which nearly went to war in 2008 over a Colombian military raid into Ecuador to destroy a cross-border rebel camp.

Venezuela also called for Ecuador, which holds the rotating presidency of regional body Unasur, to call an emergency meeting of foreign ministers to “denounce the serious attacks from the Colombian government against (Venezuelan) sovereignty.

“This new attack sets the scene for a dangerous escalation,” Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Colombia, Washington’s staunchest military ally in the region, and Venezuela, a leftist Cuban ally that has used its oil wealth to accumulate an arsenal of modern Russian warplanes and weapons, have frequently quarreled over the past few years.

The putative help Chavez is accused of giving the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas has fueled much of the ill-will and sent relations in a tailspin.

Colombia and Venezuela froze diplomatic ties last year after Bogota and Washington inked a military cooperation agreement Chavez considered a threat to regional security.

A mutual loathing between Chavez and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe — who steps down on August 7 to be succeeded by his former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos — has also aggravated the situation.

Santos declined to comment on the row.

Chavez’s latest decision to break ties came in response to Uribe’s charge that rebels from the FARC and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) insurgency group were using Venezuela as a rear base.

Uribe spoke last week of “the presence in Venezuela of terrorists who are seeking to attack our country.”

Four FARC leaders and one from the ELN were in Venezuela, are operating from there with impunity and threatening to take the matter to international forums, he said.

Venezuela has strenuously denied the accusations, and last week recalled its ambassador to Bogota to register its anger.

Colombia responded in kind, withdrawing its envoy to Caracas days later.

The Colombian representative to the Organization of American States, Luis Hoyos, told the Washington-based body on Thursday that there were 1,500 Colombian insurgents in Venezuela split into dozens of camps established in recent years.

Bogota has evidence of “the consolidated, active and growing presence of these terrorist bands in the brother country of Venezuela,” he said.

Showing graphic photos of victims of attacks he said were carried out by Venezuelan-based guerrillas, Hoyos said Caracas must “accept its obligation” to bar the rebels from its territory.

Colombian Ambassador María Luisa Chiappe said cutting ties was “one of the most drastic actions you can take in diplomacy, making this a serious and lamentable situation.”

She said all Colombian diplomats in Venezuela would return to Bogota within the deadline imposed by Chavez, but that administrative staff would stay on at the missions.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged both sides to avoid further escalation, expressing hope the neighbors could smooth out their differences through dialogue.

He “calls for restraint by all involved so that the situation can be resolved in a peaceful manner,” his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

The US State Department said Chavez’s decision to cut ties was not the “proper way” to raise concerns.

But the Venezuelan president said his decision was “lamentable but necessary” and based on “dignity” in the face of Colombia’s allegations.

“If there is any Colombian guerrilla camp (in Venezuela), it is without authorization,” Chavez said.

He claimed the outgoing Colombian leader was responsible for the dive in relations, saying: “Uribe is capable of ordering a fake camp be built on the Venezuelan side to attack it and cause a war.”

He warned that “we would go crying to a war with Colombia, but we would go.”

Source: SGGP

Australia backs down in tax row with miners

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s new Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave in to miners’ demands Friday that the government slash a hefty 40 percent super tax on the industry, as she braces for elections as early as next month.

(AFP file) A reclaimer loads a conveyor with high grade iron ore at a Rio Tinto mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The Labor government has dramatically overhauled the so-called “super profits” tax in a compromise that will see the country’s most valuable exports, coal and iron ore, along with gas and oil projects, subject to the levy.

“There will be a negotiated profit-based tax regime but there will be no resources super profits tax,” Gillard said after days of intense talks with major miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

The tax rate for coal and iron ore profits is to be reduced to 30 percent, from 40 percent, and the rate at which the tax will kick in is to be lifted from about five percent to some 12 percent.

Land-based oil and coal seam gas will be drawn into the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax regime, which already applies to offshore oil and gas resources, and taxed at 40 percent.

Gillard said the iron ore and coal tax, renamed the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), was a significant breakthrough agreement that would ensure all Australians would receive their fair share of the country’s mineral resources.

“This will deliver better returns on resources that all Australians own and that can only be dug up once,” she said. “It moves our mining industry forward with certainty.

“We’ve been stuck on this question as a nation for too long, today we are moving forward together.”

Major miners said they were encouraged by the deal struck late Thursday after Gillard took on the issue as her first priority following a lightning party coup last week in which she ousted her predecessor Kevin Rudd.

Rudd had refused to negotiate on the 40 percent rate of the tax or at what point it would kick in and the issue had embroiled his government in a damaging war of words with the wealthy and influential mining sector.

The mining tax helped prompt the centre-left Labor Party last week to dump Rudd, who was falling dramatically in opinion polls, in favour of Gillard, formerly his deputy.

The development was largely welcomed by the industry, with the Minerals Council of Australia describing it as a “positive outcome” for the country.

BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata — which announced it would resume a copper project suspended in the wake of the tax — said the development was encouraging, while stocks in major resources companies rose in early trade.

The agreement means the government will lose about 1.5 billion dollars (1.3 billion US) in revenue in the first few years, and only be able to fund a one percent cut in company tax rather than a hoped-for two percent.

Asked whether the government had been bullied by the deep-pocketed mining industry and its intensive advertising campaign against the tax, Gillard said she had engaged in “hard, frank, respectful discussion”.

The new prime minister said she was placing her consultative stamp on the government, adding that she believed you can “work best if you can get people around a table and have open, frank discussions”.

The government wants to introduce the tax from July 2012 but it must still be passed by the parliament, where it will face stiff opposition from the Liberal/National coalition, which has vowed to oppose or rescind it.

Meanwhile, a prominent economist who supported the original tax, said the compromise deal was a worrying sign of corporate influence on policy.

“This is quite a scary development for democracy,” the University of Melbourne’s Professor John Freebairn told ABC radio.

The compromise, the finer details of which are still to be determined in consultations between government and industry, is likely to prompt Gillard to call an election, due this year, in a matter of weeks.

Source: SGGP

G8 summit gathers amid budget cut row

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm

TORONTO, Canada, June 25, 2010 (AFP) – The United States urged Europe to reform its economies to raise growth as world leaders gathered for a summit Friday, amid tension over US warnings about the global recovery.

The United States has expressed concern about the speed at which European nations, particularly Germany, are withdrawing state spending put in place after global financial crisis and economic downturn.

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said: “Our job is to make sure we’re all sitting there together to focus on this challenge of growth and confidence because growth and confidence are paramount.”

Geithner played down America’s differences with Europe telling the BBC the two sides “have much more in common than we have differences.”

He said the summit offered US leaders “the chance to sit together and look at whether we’ve got a broad strategy across the country that’s going to strengthen this recovery.”

Europe “can make a choice to put in place the reforms and policies that will provide the possibility of stronger growth rates in the future,” he said, as thousands of officials, journalists and activists descended on eastern Ontario province.

The talks among the Group of Eight leading countries here were also to tackle global security and development, amid calls to deliver on past promises.

A mountie holding a Canadian flag stands guard as German Chancellor Angela Merkel steps off her plane after arriving at the airport of Toronto on June 24, 2010. AFP

Budget cuts have become a pressing issue in Europe since the Greek debt crisis, and because of risks that similar problems could arise in other eurozone countries.

US officials have argued that unduly rapid and deep budget cuts could endanger global economic recovery and even provoke a so-called double-dip recession.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has argued however that the German model of deficit cutting and disciplined public finances, and a focus on economic efficiency, is the one to be followed.

“I think that there will be very fruitful, but also very contentious, debates on this issue,” Merkel acknowledged.

Geithner said: “Everyone agrees that those deficits have to come down over time to a level that’s sustainable,” he said. But he warned the world “cannot depend as much on the US as it did in the past.”

The treasury secretary’s remarks appeared to put the emphasis on structural economic reforms in Europe.

He said economic growth is of “paramount” importance, as leaders from the G8 richest nations gather under a tight security blanket at an exclusive resort in remote Huntsville, Muskoka, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) north of Toronto.

European Union president Herman Van Rompuy told journalists the key themes of the G8 talks were “growth and confidence,” with the leaders first set to hold a working lunch to discuss the world economy.

“The global recovery is progressing better than previously envisioned, although at different speeds,” Rompuy said.

“Restoring confidence in budgetary policies goes hand in hand with growth strategies.”

After the conclusion of Friday’s gathering, officials were to attend a second summit on Saturday and Sunday as the Group of 20 developed and emerging nations convene, with 20,000 police deployed for a huge billion-dollar security operation.

For the first time the leaders are publishing figures in a bid to “provide a candid assessment on what the G8 has done,” they said in a report.

The so-called Muskoka Accountability Report lists country by country the pledges each nation has made since 2002 in key areas such as aid, economic development, health and food security and how far they have met them.

“In some areas, the G8 can point to considerable success; in others it has further to go to deliver fully on its promises,” the report says.

US President Barack Obama said he was calling for “a new era of engagement that yields real results for our people — an era when nations live up to their responsibilities and act on behalf of our shared security and prosperity.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, making his first appearance at a major summit since taking power last month, also suggested such meetings rarely resulted in “tangible global action.”

“Too often these international meetings fail to live up to the hype and to the promises made,” he wrote in an editorial in Canada’s daily Globe and Mail.

“So the challenge for the upcoming G8 and G20 is to be more than just grand talking shops.”

The leaders of six African nations will also join G8 heads for Friday’s talks focused on helping the continent fight terrorism and achieving millennium goals to battle poverty.

Source: SGGP

Japan PM resigns after US base row

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 2:05 am

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s centre-left Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama tearfully resigned Wednesday, just nine months after a stunning election win, his brief reign derailed by a row over an unpopular US airbase.

Hatoyama ended more than half a century of conservative rule in an electoral earthquake last August, but soon earned a reputation for crippling indecision at the helm of the world’s second-biggest economy.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama bows his head before his party’s lawmakers at the national Diet in Toyko as he announced his resignation. AFP photo

The 63-year-old millionaire, the scion of an influential family dubbed “Japan’s Kennedys”, quit at a meeting of his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

“I will step down,” an emotional Hatoyama told party lawmakers at a special meeting in parliament, while also vowing to “create a new DPJ”.

“The government’s work has not reflected the public’s wishes,” said Hatoyama, who formally remains as premier until a successor is voted in.

“I apologise to all of you lawmakers here for causing enormous trouble.”

The party plans to vote for a new leader on Friday. Finance Minister Naoto Kan, who is a deputy prime minister, was widely tipped to succeed Hatoyama.

The new DPJ chief must then be elected as prime minister by parliament in a vote expected later the same day.

Speculation had swirled for days that Hatoyama would quit as his approval ratings, once above 70 percent, crashed below the 20-percent mark.

The premier’s rapid demise since he took office in September was driven by the festering dispute over a Marine airbase on Okinawa island that badly strained ties with the United States, Tokyo’s bedrock ally.

Hatoyama, a Stanford-trained engineering scholar, took power vowing less subservient ties with Washington and closer engagement with Asia, worrying many Japan watchers in the United States.

He promised to move the US base off Okinawa, to ease the burden for locals who have long complained of aircraft noise, pollution and crime associated with a heavy American military presence since World War II.

But, after failing to find an alternative location for the base in Japan, the premier backtracked and decided to keep it on the island, enraging Okinawans and his pacifist coalition partners the Social Democrats.

The left-leaning group quit his three-party coalition on Sunday, weakening the government in parliament’s upper house ahead of elections for the chamber expected on July 11, in which the DPJ expects to take a beating.

Hatoyama said he had also asked the DPJ’s most influential figure, secretary general Ichiro Ozawa, to quit. Both Hatoyama and Ozawa have been embroiled in a political funding scandal.

Hatoyama’s wealthy mother handed large donations to his electoral warchest, triggering a criminal investigation that saw a close aide receive a suspended jail term.

Ozawa, described as the “Shadow Shogun” for his power behind the throne, has seen three of his current and former aides indicted for cooking the books. Prosecutors have also questioned Ozawa himself and raided his offices.

Hatoyama identified the funding scandals and the Okinawa issue as the two main reasons for his demise.

“I have caused trouble for the people of Okinawa,” he said.

“Cooperation between Japan and the United States is inevitable for peace and security in East Asia, so I had to ask Okinawans, with regret, to bear the burden.”

Apart from the finance minister, other potential successors include Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Transport Minister Seiji Maehara and Deputy Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Tokyo share prices rallied on Hatoyama’s exit.

“The PM’s resignation will provide some stability to the market short-term as it removes big uncertainties” regarding overall policies, Citigroup trader Mattia Ciancaleoni told Dow Jones Newswires.

Source: SGGP