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Socialists quit coalition over US base row

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2010-05-30

Japan's socialist party quit the country's ruling coalition Sunday, citing differences over PM Yukio Hatoyama's decision to retain an unpopular US military base in Okinawa. The move puts additional pressure on Hatoyama ahead of July elections.

AFP - Japan's small socialist party Sunday walked out of the ruling coalition in a row over a US military base in Okinawa, heaping pressure on embattled Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama ahead of July elections.
   
The move came after Hatoyama on Friday dismissed Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Mizuho Fukushima as his consumer affairs minister.
   
Fukushima had denounced Hatoyama's decision to retain the Marine base despite a pre-election promise by the centre-left prime minister to move it off Okinawa island, where the US military presence is hugely unpopular.
   
"We decided to leave the government at an executive meeting," Fukushima told a televised news conference. "Everybody told me it was good that I have stuck to my beliefs," she said.
   
The SDP has only minimal representation in parliament. But Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan, which dominates the key lower house, needs the help of other parties to secure a majority in the upper house.
   
The SDP's departure could further damage Hatoyama's standing as his approval ratings hover at all-time lows of around 20 percent before the July elections, in which half of the upper house seats will be contested.

Date created : 2010-05-30

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