Obama congratulates Hatoyama on his electoral victory; Adm. Keating says no major changes expected in Japan’s defence policies after Hatoyama’s election; Ozawa to be made DPJ’s Secretary General
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  • US President Barack Obama telephoned the newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on September 2 and congratulated him and his Democratic Party of Japan on the landslide electoral victory. Obama stated that he looked forward to meeting Hatoyama at the UN General Assembly in New York and at the upcoming G20 summit in Pittsburgh, which will be the Japanese leader's first exposure on the world stage after being elected1.

    Hatoyama on his part stated on September 4 that the G20 finance ministers meeting in London on September 5-6 and its discussions on improving financial regulation was an indication that world leaders were seriously reflecting on addressing the excesses of market fundamentalism2.

    The US’s top military officer in the Pacific, Adm. Timothy Keating on September 2 stated that he did not expect major changes to his country's defense relationship with Japan in the aftermath of the election of Mr. Hatoyama, who has vowed to re-evaluate his country’s ties with Washington3. Reports however noted that the incoming government’s plan to move thousands of US Marines off Okinawa will likely be the first test of the country’s strong relationship with Washington4.

    Hatoyama meanwhile announced that acting DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa will be appointed as Secretary General of the party, which is the No. 2 post of the party. Reports noted that the appointment is expected to further strengthen Ozawa's clout within the party5.

    The Japanese Ministry of Defense on August 31 released its 4.85 trillion yen budget plan for the next fiscal year, including provisions for upgrading the nation's missile defence system and purchasing a new helicopter carrier. The current PAC-3 missile interceptor system, which currently covers the Tokyo metropolitan area and vicinities between the Tokai and Kansai regions, is to be expanded to include Hokkaido, Tohoku and Okinawa. The system will also be extended to northern Kyushu in the coming year. The planned expansion is estimated to cost about 94.4 billion yen6.

    In other developments, a member of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) has been arrested on suspicion of selling personal information on GSDF members. Military police accused Captain Yasunari Tokunaga, 46, of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) Kagoshima Provincial Cooperation Office, of sneaking out personal data on some 140,000 GSDF personnel, in violation of laws on the protection of personal information held by administrative agencies7.