(For a background on the US-Japan security alliance, please refer to the Japan Society's Japanese-American Security Agreement page.)

On December 17, 2009, Prime Minister Hatoyama discussed his feelings towards the Futenma debate and insists that his decision will rest on three main points:

1. The Japan-US alliance is the foundation of Japan's security and I am well aware of the gravity that the agreement between Japan and the United States carries.
2. I am also aware of the gravity of our campaign argument that led to the change in government; that relocating the base outside Okinawa Prefecture or even outside Japan is desirable.
3. The positions of the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party must be respected in order to sustain the coalition government that was established to answer to the people's mandate.
(from the Hatoyama Cabinet E-mail Magazine)

He expresses optiimism for Japan's future relations with the United States and emphasizes the fact that time spent now discussing all possible options will be for the mutual benefit of both nations.


Current relations between Japan and the United States have been strained over the issue of the relocation of the Futenma Air Station. Prime Minister Hatoyama has not approved the decision of the previous administration to relocate the base to Henoko, which have led to fears that the basis of the security alliance will continue to face challenges as it faces its 50th anniversary and questions concerning the role of the United States in his foreign policy agenda.

Issues have grown even more strained as Prime Minister Hatoyama announced that he would not decide the fate of the American air base until 2010.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times has noted that two new leaders with promises to fulfill cannot expect to agree on every issue. As tensions mount over the issue of Futenma, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has stated that he will face the issue of the relocation with the other leaders of his coalition government. This coalition with Shizuka Kamei of the People's New Party and Mizuho Fukushima of the Social Democratic Party has acted as an impediment towards compromise and has led to criticism of Hatoyama's inability to assert DPJ control of the new government.


Interesting Links:


Yukio Hatoyama: My Feelings Toward Futenma (Hatoyama Cabinet Magaine, December 17, 2009)

Roger Cohen: Obama's Japan Headache (The New York Times, December 10, 2009)

Satoshi Ogawa: Futenma Snit Could Turn Much Nastier (The Daily Yomiuri, December 10, 2009)

Michael Auslin: Creaky Alliance (The New York Times, November 11, 2009)

Japan's Defense Kabuki (The Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2009)