Former PM Yukio Hatoyama retiring from politics

Current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stated today that former premier, and member of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Yukio Hatoyama would be leaving the party prior to next month’s general election, and retiring from politics altogether. Leading up to the decision, 65 year old Hatoyama was already unhappy with the DPJ’s direction and Noda’s commitment to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

Hatoyama was the first prime minister from the DPJ when the party gained power in 2009, however he only served for nine months. He was also one of the leading figures of the party when it was established in 1998. In regards to his opposition to the party’s current policies, Hatoyama told his followers that his views were far too different these days, and that he didn’t have any choice but to leave. In previous years he was seen as somewhat of an oddball, with the Japanese media giving him the nickname “The Alien” for his wide-eyed expressions, as well as his spirituality-interested wife, Miyuki, who claimed she once visited the planet Venus on a triangular spaceship, and met Tom Cruise in a previous life.

The former prime minister has a personal wealth reaching into the millions. He is recognized for coming from a family with powerful political and business connections, including a grandfather who served as prime minister once, and another who founded tire manufacturing giant Bridgestone. When he took the seat in 2009, he was seen by the public as someone who would bring the change the DPJ had promised in its campaign pledges, however that reputation quickly diminished when he changed his stance on removing one the controversial U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

Hatoyama Plans to Form New Party Spells Trouble for Noda

Speculation is rife that former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and his followers will form a new party, and whether he stays in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan could determine the future of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s government.

The DPJ has already lost 49 lawmakers to Ichiro Ozawa’s new Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People’s Life First) and Noda is barely maintaining a majority in the Lower House. If 16 or more lawmakers follow Ozawa’s lead, the DPJ-Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) coalition would fall from power.

Hatoyama denied media reports Friday that he could leave the DPJ over his opposition to the consumption tax hike and launch a new party, saying they are “groundless.”

Read the rest of the story: Hatoyama exit could doom Noda.

Okinawans outraged by Prime Minister’s broken promises on U.S. base

Okinawans were outraged Sunday that Japan’s prime minister reneged on his campaign pledge to move a U.S. military base off their island, a decision that upholds a longstanding agreement with Washington.

Protesters held signs plastered with the Japanese character for “anger” as Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama visited the Okinawa prefectural (state) office. His broken promise over Okinawa deepens political confusion just weeks ahead of nationwide elections.

The southern semitropical island is important to the U.S. military because it is near China, Taiwan and the Korean peninsula, where tensions have risen sharply after North Korea was blamed last week for the sinking of a South Korean warship.

The people of Okinawa have long complained about the noise, jet-crash dangers and crime worries that come from housing more than half of the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan, stationed under the bilateral defense alliance.

Japanese police bomb squad checks out package sent to Hatoyama

A Japanese police bomb squad was Friday investigating a mail package containing wires and batteries sent to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s office, but found no explosives, media reports said.

The Asahi TV network said investigators believed the security scare may have been “an evil-natured prank”. No immediate confirmation was available from the premier’s office or police.

The incident came as Hatoyama is struggling to boost his sagging ratings ahead of upper house elections due in July.

Read the rest of the story: Japan bomb squad tests suspicious package sent to PM

Japans part at the Nuclear Summit – Nuclear Secruity Center Proposed by Hatoyama

A summit aimed at thwarting nuclear terrorism began in Washington with a working dinner Monday, with host U.S. President Barack Obama hoping to bring to fruition his goal of securing nuclear materials from theft or diversion within four years.

In addition to Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and representatives from 45 other nations are taking part in the two-day Nuclear Security Summit, which Obama proposed to host during his landmark speech in Prague last April.

Following full-fledged discussions Tuesday, the meeting will close in the evening with a joint communique expected to press for international efforts to strengthen safeguards against the theft and purchase of nuclear materials or technologies by terrorists.

During his speech at the one-and-a-half-hour banquet, Hatoyama, who has said he wants to fulfill his responsibility as leader of the only nation to have experienced atomic bombings, proposed establishing a nuclear security support center in Japan and conducting a $6.1 million support project with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Read the rest of the story: Nuclear summit opens, Hatoyama plays up Japan’s role on nuke security

Mommy’s Money – Hatoyama pledges to resign if caught in a lie over political funding

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama pledged to end his parliamentary career if found to have lied in political funding scandal.

Political donations from his mother were falsely reported as small donations from individuals.

These new allegations of scandalous funding add more wood to the fire as aides of the prime minister and the Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa are being indicted or arrested as well.

Hatoyama said, “I have never obtained personal profit. I am not qualified to be wearing the badge of a Diet member (if I lied about not knowing of my mother’s donations).”

Hatoyama caught by the Taxman – Failed to report 72 mil. yen income from stock sales

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama failed to declare 72 million yen in income from stock sales in 2008.

Hatoyama sold more than 150,000 shares in 10 different stocks, including those listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The stock gains also were not mentioned in his income report for 2008. However it is required to be submitted under law as it is mandatory for Diet members to disclose their salaries, assets and other sources of income.

His office has since corrected the failure and paid the tax. It also has amended the report and submitted a corrected version to the secretariat of the House of the Representatives Monday, a Hatoyama aide said.

A comparison of post-general election asset reports submitted in September 2005 and asset reports of the Hatoyama Cabinet on Oct. 23 show that Hatoyama sold 151,190 shares of 10 stocks, including those listed on the TSE’s First Section.

The 151,190 shares break down into 30,306 shares in Tokyu Corp., 27,702 in Shimizu Corp., 24,209 in Sumitomo Corp., 19,478 in Mitsubishi Estate, 15,428 in Kirin Holdings Co., 13,000 in Mitsubishi Electric Corp., 11,240 in Toyobo Co., 7,805 in Tokyo Electric Power Co., 1,650 in Kohnan Shoji Co. and 372 in Oji Paper Co.

The stocks are worth about 124 million yen or $1,371,682.46 USD when calculated based on Friday’s closing prices. In his income report submitted in April, Hatoyama did not declare profits from stock sales.

If dividends and profits from stock sales are obtained by transactions through the shareholder’s “specific account” that is supervised by a brokerage firm, and the tax is collected at source, there is no need to report the dividends and stock profits. Transactions that do not go through the “specific account” should be reported after filing a tax return.

Acknowledging the tax failure, Hatoyama’s office said: “We corrected it and paid the tax. Before the stock certificates of listed companies went electronic in January, we sold the stocks [in question] following the advice of a brokerage firm. After finding that we had failed to declare income when we filed a tax return, we corrected the tax return report immediately and submitted it.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told a news conference Monday morning, “This is a personal matter for the prime minister.”

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun
photo: AZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese Election Landslide – Aso to Resign – Japan to Change


Japan’s main opposition party, Democratic Party of Japan, made a historic landslide victory in elections Sunday, upending the ruling conservative party, which has ruled Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.

Japan has had three prime ministers in three years, all of whom were deeply unpopular for their perceived lack of leadership and for failing to get the country out of its deepening economic morass.

“All the bad things over the last 54 years finally caught up to them,” said Fumio Morita, 45, who runs a bar in Tokyo. “It’s good that they are no longer in power.”

Aso’s Resignation

A grim-looking Prime Minister Taro Aso conceded defeat just a couple hours after polls had closed, and has now stated he will resign as the president of the Liberal Democratic Party to take responsibility.

“The results are very severe,” Aso said. “There has been a deep dissatisfaction with our party.”

“I must accept responsibility” for the Liberal Democratic Party’s expected major losses, Aso said during a televised interview with Japanese national broadcaster NHK.

Japan Now

Unemployment and deflation-and an aging, shrinking population-have left families fearful of what the future holds.

“It’s a historic election in that a clear alternation of power has happened for the first time in the postwar period,” said Koichi Nakano, professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo. “It’s kind of hard to know whether this is going to lead to a real change in policy, at least for the short term.”

With only two weeks of official campaigning that focused mainly on broad-stroke appeals rather than specific policies, many analysts said the elections were not so much about issues as voters’ general desire for something new after more than a half century under the LDP.

Japan’s Future

“I’m hoping that Japan will forever be changed for the better,” stated an excited voter.

Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the The Democratic Party of Japan, ended 50 years of single-party rule with vows to arrest Japan’s decay and tame its bureaucracy.

Hatoyama’s party, which already controls the upper house with two allies, held just 112 seats in the lower house before parliament was dissolved in July.

The Democratic Party of Japan needed to win a simple majority of 241 seats in the lower house to ensure it could name the next prime minister. The 300-plus level would allow it and its two smaller allies the two-thirds majority they need in the lower house to pass bills.

Official results were to be announced mid-morning Monday, but media exit polls indicated the Democrats would win 300 or more of the 480 seats in the more powerful lower house of Japan’s parliament. That would be enough to give them the power to establish a new Cabinet and name Hatoyama as prime minister by the end of next month.

In foreign relations, the Democrats have said they want Tokyo to be more independent from Washington on diplomatic issues, though they have stressed that the U.S. will remain Japan’s key ally and that they want to keep relations good, while also strengthening ties with their Asian neighbors.

Excerpts taken from stories by AP, Bloomberg, and Dow Jones