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October 27, 2009

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Hatoyama seeks equal ties with US

JAPAN'S new prime minister declared yesterday that reviving the nation's sluggish economy was a top priority for his government and stressed seeking "close and equal" ties with the United States in a speech outlining his main policy goals to parliament.

Yukio Hatoyama, whose government swept to power in an August election victory that unseated a long-ruling conservative party, said key objectives included creating jobs, cutting public works spending, and giving cash to families with children.

Hatoyama said he wanted a "close and equal" alliance with the US, which he described as the "cornerstone" of Japanese diplomacy.

He wants to "frankly" discuss a plan to realign US military bases in Japan, where 47,000 American troops are based under a security pact.

Concerns that a rift is emerging between the US and Japan have grown after Hatoyama's government has suggested it would like to make changes to a 2006 agreement to rework the American military presence in the country, as well as end a naval refueling mission in the Indian Ocean supporting US-led troops in Afghanistan.

Addressing the more powerful lower house of parliament, Hatoyama promised to launch new measures to create jobs and take steps to save small businesses from going bankrupt.


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