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New prime minister named in Japan

September 17, 2009|Associated Press

TOKYO — Japan's parliament named Yukio Hatoyama prime minister Wednesday, as his party took power for the first time with promises to revive the slumping economy and make Tokyo a more equal partner in its alliance with the United States.

The Stanford-educated Hatoyama said he planned to review the American military presence in Japan, where 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed. But he said he wouldn't emphasize that potentially contentious issue in a first meeting with President Obama that could come sometime this month.

The outgoing Liberal Democrats, who had ruled the country for most of the postwar era, are staunchly pro-American.

Some have worried that the incoming Democratic Party of Japan would make changes to the U.S. relationship, but both Hatoyama and Washington have been careful to dispel the notion that any big shift is afoot.

While in the opposition, some in the Democratic Party said they wanted to overhaul the security alliance, and others balked at Tokyo's share of the cost of moving 8,000 Marines from the southern island of Okinawa to the U.S. territory of Guam.

But Hatoyama, 62, has been careful to reassure Japanese and Americans alike that the U.S. will remain the "cornerstone" of his government's foreign policy.

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