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Hatoyama to stay as PM

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TOKYO, June 1 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, despite calls for his resignation, said Tuesday he’ll stay on to help his party in the upcoming upper house elections.

Hatoyama, who led his Democratic Party of Japan to power last August, is now facing growing calls from his own party to resign as approval ratings for his Cabinet has sunk below 20 percent. The DPJ, which leads the coalition government, has a sizable majority in the lower house of parliament but must do well in next month’s upper house elections to win approval of bills as the country comes out of its worst post-World War II recession.

“By holding discussions with (DPJ) Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa and cooperating with him, I will stand up against this national crisis,” Kyodo News quoted Hatoyama as telling reporters.

Adding to Hatoyama’s woes, his coalition’s partner, the Social Democratic Party, plans to leave after the prime minister cut SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima from his Cabinet after she refused to support an accord on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Base in Okinawa, a thorny issue in U.S.-Japan relations.

The Hatoyama government, after months of discussions, decided to relocate the U.S. Marines’ Futenma Air Station to a less-crowded site within Okinawa rather than outside the prefecture as Hatoyama had pledged in his election campaign.

A Kyodo News telephone poll of voters during the weekend showed the Hatoyama Cabinet’s public support ratings fell to 19.1 percent and 51.2 percent want Hatoyama’s resignation for failing to resolve the base issue as he had promised.

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