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Economy priority for Japan's PM

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama addresses parliament - 26 October 2009
Yukio Hatoyama's victory ended a half-century of LDP dominance

In his first policy speech to parliament since taking office, Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said reviving the economy was his priority.

He also reaffirmed the importance of the alliance with the United States, after disagreements over the relocation of an American base.

Mr Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan won elections at the end of August.

Their win swept the Liberal Democratic Power from power for only the second time since 1955.

Left turn

In his first policy speech to parliament since becoming prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama laid out the changes he wants to bring to Japan after more than half a century of almost continuous conservative rule.

JAPAN'S NEW GOVERNMENT
The DPJ, which has never been in government before, now governs the world's second biggest economy
New PM Yukio Hatoyama is a political blue-blood but largely unknown outside Japan
He is nicknamed the "alien", and his wife claims to have travelled to Venus in a UFO
DPJ promises to increase spending on health and childcare, but without increasing taxes
Other pledges include climate cuts, better ties with Asia and a more "equal" alliance with the US

He pledged to revive the economy by creating jobs in areas like nursing and farming, while cutting wasteful spending on public works projects.

Signalling a shift to the left for the country, the prime minister said market forces should be tempered to create a more liveable society.

The government will expand the welfare system - including payments to parents with children in an attempt to increase the birthrate and tackle Japan's ageing and shrinking population.

Mr Hatoyama also said he wants a "close and equal" alliance with the United States which he described as a cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy.

In recent weeks a rift has emerged between the two countries over the relocation of an American military base on the southern island of Okinawa.



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