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Hatoyama announces resignation

TOKYO, June 1 (UPI) -- Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced his decision to step down Wednesday after only eight months in office.

The leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, which he helped come to power last September after the August elections, announced his decision at a general assembly of party lawmakers, Kyodo News reported.

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The prime minister's ruling coalition has seen its public approval ratings plunge in recent months. Things came to a head after the Social Democratic Party, a coalition partner, decided to leave over the government's accord allowing the U.S. Marine base's air station to stay within Okinawa instead of outside the prefecture as Hatoyama had pledged during his election campaign.

The decision came a day after Hatoyama had said he would stay on to help his party in the upcoming upper house elections.

Hatoyama had been facing growing calls from his own party to resign as approval ratings for his Cabinet had fallen below 20 percent.

The DPJ has a sizable majority in the lower house of parliament but must do well in next month's upper house elections to win passage of important bills as the country comes out of its worst post-World War II recession.

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