NHK has just announced that Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio has relieved (himen) Minister for Consumer Affairs and Declinining Birthrate Fukushima Mizuho of her ministerial postings.
Hatoyama spent all day trying to convince the Social Democratic Party's leader to reverse her stance on the government's plan to move elements of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko. To every entreaty Fukushima replied that if the government's proposal named Henoko or any other place inside Okinawa Prefecture as the destination of the forces currently at Futenma, she would refuse to sign the document. Furthermore, if asked to resign, she would refuse to do so.
Faced with the prospect of the plan's not winning the status of a Cabinet Decision -- and having issued a joint statement with the United States on the outlines of the plan on a few hours earlier, the prime minister was left with no other choice but sacking his stubborn minister and coalition party leader.
The Cabinet will now meet sans Fukushima to approve the plan.
Having had to rely on forceful methods to pass a significantly unpopular plan, the prime minister's problems are only just beginning. He has a plan which his remaining non-DPJ minister, People's New Party leader Kamei Shizuka, has repeatedly stated is unrealizable. He has retreated from every position he has taken over the last nine months, driving the people of Okinawa to the edge of fury and the rest of the country over the edge of exasperation.
The contrast between himself, the constant and in the end unfulfilled waverer, and Minister Fukushima, who stuck by her guns all the way to the bitter end, could not be more stark.
Sic transit gloria mundi...
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