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Chapter One
Period of President Hatoyama's Leadership

In the first four months after the LDP's inauguration, efforts were made under the direction of the Acting Party Presidents Committee to establish party organizations at the regional and local level. When the formation of the Party's Federation of Prefectural Branches had been completed, a second extraordinary party convention was held on April 5, 1956. At the convention, Party members in the Diet and delegates from prefectural branches elected Ichiro Hatoyama as the LDP's first President.

With Hatoyama's election, public hopes for the success of the LDP and its new populist president rose even further. Despite ill health, Prime Minister Hatoyama was buoyed by the rising wave of LDP popularity as he campaigned across the entire country in the run up to the House of Councillors Election held in July of the same year. His promotion of a “spirit of fraternity” (yuai seishin) and central policy goals such as the restoration of diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union and the strengthening of national political and economic independence garnered support and resulted in a “Hatoyama Boom.” In the wake of this, the LDP, together with independents affiliated with the Party, captured a total of 64 seats in national and regional districts and decisively defeated the Socialists.

The Hatoyama Cabinet continued to work to strengthen Japan's political and economic independence through a variety of policies and legislation including the “Constitution Investigation Committee Law” (Kenpo Chosakai-ho), “National Defense Council Composition Law” (Kokubo Kaigi Kosei-ho), “New Board of Education Law” (Shin Kyouiku Iinkai-ho), “Japan Highway Public Corporation Law” (Nihon Doro Kodan Ho), “Science and Technology Agency Establishment Law” (Kagaku Gijutsu-cho Secchi Ho), “Metropolitan Area Redevelopment Law” (Shutoken Seibi-ho), and the “Law for the Promotion of the Development of New Cities, Towns, and Villages” (Shin Shichoson Kensetsu Sokushin-ho). In addition to these domestic accomplishments, the Hatoyama Cabinet is also credited in the diplomatic sphere with the conclusion of a compensation agreement between Japan and the Philippines that allowed the country to make progress in the settling of outstanding issues related to the Second World War. The Hatoyama Cabinet's greatest achievement, however, was undoubtedly the normalization of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union that was finally completed after extensive postwar negotiations.

Prime Minister Hatoyama had been firmly committed to resolving this issue since the beginning of his administration. In October of 1956, he once again overcame difficulties with his health and personally led the negotiation team to Moscow. Although the failure to reach a settlement of the territorial dispute over possession of the southern Kurile Islands complicated the negotiations, the two countries were able to sign a joint declaration on October 19 announcing the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries as well as a protocol agreement concerning trade and the reciprocal granting of most-favored-nation status.

Along with those for the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty concluded under the Yoshida Cabinet, these negotiations and subsequent agreements with the Soviet Union are regarded as one of the two most significant diplomatic events in Japan's postwar history. The country's acceptance into the United Nations in December of 1956 added yet another historic achievement to Hatoyama's distinguished career. Especially in light of the great personal risks that he took to achieve them, Prime Minister Hatoyama's momentous political accomplishments will never be forgotten.

Having played an invaluable role both in the formation of a “conservative alliance” and the restoration of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Soviet Union, the two goals on which he had staked so much of his political career, Prime Minister Hatoyama announced his intention to step down as Prime Minister and the LDP President immediately after returning to Japan. He remained in office until four bills, including the joint declaration, were ratified by the Diet during its 25th Extraordinary Session held in December and relations between Japan and the Soviet Union were formally reestablished through an exchange of ratification instruments.

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