Japan opposition leader says to battle to move US base

The leader of Japan's Social Democratic Party said she would battle to move a U.S. Marine base off the southern island of Okinawa.

Japan opposition leader says to battle to move US base

The leader of Japan's tiny Social Democratic Party (SDP) said on Tuesday she would battle to move a U.S. Marine base off the southern island of Okinawa, but stopped short of reiterating a threat to leave the ruling coalition over the row.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Democratic Party has a majority in parliament's powerful lower house after an August election win, but needs the support of the Social Democrats and another small coalition party to pass laws in the upper house.

The SDP, one of the three parties in the ruling coalition, emphasises welfare policies and the preservation of Japan's pacifist constitution."

On the sticky issue of relocating a U.S. Marine base on Japan's Okinawa island, the party insists the facility be moved off the island rather than to a more remote site on Okinawa, as specified in a 2006 U.S.-Japan agreement."

Founded in 1996, the Social Democratic Party is the successor to the Socialist Party, which was once Japan's main opposition force. The Socialists joined an odd-couple coalition with the conservative Liberal Democratic Party from 1994-96, and its successor, the SDP, lost many members to the Democratic Party when it was created in 1998. The SDP now has seven seats in the 480-member lower house and five out of 242 seats in the upper house.

Party leader Mizuho Fukushima, a former lawyer turned upper house lawmaker, now serves as minister for consumer affairs and for measures to address Japan's declining birthrate.

The 54-year-old Fukushima is one of two female ministers in Hatoyama's cabinet and a rarity in a political arena dominated by men. She is serving a fourth term as party leader.

Fukushima is the second-richest cabinet minister after Hatoyama, himself one of Japan's wealthiest politicians. She has 114 million yen ($1.3 million) in savings, according to her latest asset disclosure, money she said came from her work as a lawyer.

($1=88.21 Yen)

Reuters
Last Mod: 13 Ocak 2010, 08:35
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