Yukio Hatoyama dashed the hopes of the people of Okinawa when, as prime minister, he failed to deliver on his promise to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma out of the prefecture.

But now he wants a chance at redemption and to prove — as a retired lawmaker — that he can find another location and prevent the replacement base from being built as planned in the Henoko district, farther north on Okinawa Island. He has made this his ultimate goal.

The original decision to move the contentious base from its current site in the crowded city of Ginowan is based on a 1996 agreement reached by the United States and Japan, which was led by a Liberal Democratic Party administration. But the ball never got rolling as strong local opposition to the current base and to any notion of replacing it with another airstrip in the prefecture stymied the plan.