Japan Changes Guard in "Revolutionary" Election

Likely new PM has pledged to stand up to America

Monday, Aug 31, 2009  |  Updated 5:00 AM CDT
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Yukio Hatoyama, leader of Japan's main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, speaks at the party's election center in Tokyo, Japan, while observing the parliamentary elections ballot counting Sunday Aug. 30, 2009.

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Japanese voters tossed out its ruling party for more than half a century, paving the way for a former management professor to lead the world’s second-largest economy as it fights its way out of its worst recession since World War II.

“This has been a revolutionary election,” Yukio Hatoyama, the head of Japan’s Democratic Party and the country’s likely new prime minister said on Sunday. Until now, conservatives have ruled Japan for nearly all of the past 54 years. Hatoyama's more-liberal party won in a landslide after record voter turnout fueled by dissatisfaction over the economy, according to The Associated Press.

In the past, Hatoyama has pledged to renegotiate Japan’s relationship with the U.S. by ending refueling missions in support of the war in Afghanistan, and by “reconsidering” the role of 50,000 American troops stationed across Japan, according to reports.

But analysts point to more recent statements by Hatoyama that suggest no radical changes to the U.S-Japanese relationship, The New York Times reported. “President Obama looks forward to working closely with the new Japanese prime minister on a broad range of global, regional and bilateral issues,” the White House said in a statement after the elections.

Read More: MSNBC, New York Times, Bloomberg

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