Tokyo: Japan`s Premier Yukio Hatoyama has
fired left-leaning coalition partner and consumer affairs
minister Mizuho Fukushima for opposing a US base deal, major
media reported on Friday.
The pacifist cabinet minister, who leads the Social
Democrats, had refused to support an agreement with Washington
to keep a controversial US airbase on the southern island of
Okinawa, where locals vehemently oppose it.
The premier`s move throws into turmoil Japan`s young
centre-left coalition government, although it would retain a
majority in both houses of parliament even if the Social
Democrats (SDP) bolt the ruling coalition.
Upper house elections are expected on July 11.
Japan and the United States agreed today to keep a US
military airbase on Okinawa island, resolving a months-long
row that has badly strained ties between the allies but
angering local opponents.
Tokyo and Washington said in a joint statement that the
controversial Futenma marine airbase would be moved, as first
agreed in 2006, from a crowded city area to the coastal Henoko
region of the southern island.
The cabinet met shortly after the meeting between
Hatoyama and Fukushima, in which he reportedly decided to fire
her, to endorse the US deal.
The base has long angered locals because of aircraft
noise, pollution, the risk of crashes and friction with
American service personnel, especially after the 1995 rape of
a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen.