Yukio Hatoyama (鳩山由紀夫 Hatoyama Yukio, born 11th February 1947) was the Prime Minister of Japan from September 2009 to June 2010. He became president of the governing Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in May 2009, stepping down as he relinquished his role as prime minister. Under his leadership, the party won a landslide victory in the lower house parliamentary elections in August 2009, ousting the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) after 55 years of near-uninterrupted rule. Hatoyama formed a coalition government dominated by his own party, which had also become the largest group in the upper house of the Diet (Japanese parliament); however, following the departure of a coalition partner over the location of a U.S. Military base in Okinawa, as well as criticism of his leadership since taking office, Hatoyama signalled his intention to resign on 2nd June, paving for the way for the election of a new prime minister on 4th June 2010.
Political and academic career
Hatoyama gained a Ph.D in engineering from Stanford University and later worked as a university lecturer before entering politics. He was a founder member of a minority party in the short-lived coalition of 1993 which briefly took office from the LDP, and in which he served as a minister. Afterwards, he co-founded the DPJ. Hatoyama would later serve as the party's secretary-general until 2009. His leadership election victory that May was partly credited to his support from the DPJ faction led by Ichiro Ozawa (小沢一郎 Ozawa Ichiroo), who resigned as president due to a financial scandal but remained a powerful figure in the party, until Hatoyama asked him to join him in stepping down in June 2010.
Leadership, Futenma base issue and resignation
Hatoyama was nicknamed "Alien" due to his mannerisms and political style; this was a reference to a perception that his motivations and decision-making were not always obvious to outside commentators. Alongside continuing interest in party funding scandals, criticism of his leadership mounted throughout his months in office, but the main reason for his departure was his handling of the siting of the Futenma U.S. air base on Okinawa Island. The previous LDP-led government had agreed with the U.S. that this base would be relocated elsewhere on the island, despite serious reservations from many local people about the continued presence of 75% of the American forces in Japan being in Okinawa. The DPJ's coalition partner left the government when Hatoyama dismissed their leader, Mizuho Fukushima (福島瑞穂 Fukushima Mizuho), for not supporting the DPJ's eventual decision to broadly agree to the relocation pact signed between the LDP and the Bush administration. This was following Hatoyama's election pledge that the move should be renegotiated, preferably with the base being moved outside Okinawa. Once this pledge was abandoned, pressure mounted on Hatoyama to go, especially with a July 2010 upper house election approaching, in which at the time the coalition held only a one-seat majority.
Hatoyama's grandfather, Ichiro Hatoyama (鳩山 一郎 Hatoyama Ichiroo), also served as an LDP prime minister, and Hatoyama himself was once a member of the party - as his brother, Kunio Hatoyama (鳩山邦夫 Hatoyama Kunio), who left the LDP in March 2010. Hatoyama was a so-called 'hereditary politician' due to his family's record of political office; it also founded the tyre company Bridgestone. The family's philosophy centres on the concept of yuai (友愛), meaning 'fraternity', which Hatoyama referred to in both Japanese and English.
- BBC: 'Profile: Yukio Hatoyama'. 16th September 2009.
- Japan Times: 'Ozawa's residual influence'. 16th June 2009.
- Willacy, Mark. New Japan PM earned alien name, wife says, ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1 September 2009. Retrieved on 5 October 2013.
- Japan Times: 'Next first lady feels affinity with Michelle Obama'. 2nd September 2009.
- Japan Times: 'Hatoyama quits as prime minister'. 2nd September 2009.
- Japan Times: 'Hatoyama's eldest son, Kiichiro, in demand as potential heir apparent'. 13th September 2009.
- Japan Times: 'First lady grabs spotlight with spiritual quirks'. 4th September 2009.