The following are the main points of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's comments in the September 9 press conference [in Sydney, Australia, before his return to Japan].
(Opening statement) Japan, the US, and Australia held their first [trilateral] summit meeting, where the heads of the US and Australia expressed their high evaluation of and gratitude for Japan's contribution to the "War on Terror". On my side, I explained the [my? our?] will to continue the "War on Terror". I also explained it at the Japan-US summit meeting with President Bush. The Diet is in a very severe situation, but since this has become an international pledge, a big responsibility lies with me. I am determined that all efforts must be expended to continue the refueling activities of the Self-Defense Forces. I intend to put my job on the line in order to receive the understanding of the DPJ and other opposition parties.
Q. Are you submitting a revision bill that extends the counter-terrorism act, or are you submitting a new act from the beginning? Are you willing to hold a meeting of the party heads with the JPD and other opposition parties before submitting the bill?
A. We must submit a bill to continue refueling activities of the Self-Defense Forces and achieve its enactment. In submitting the bill, we must make the maximum effort to receive the understanding of the opposition parties, the DPJ in particular. For this purpose, I must seek their understanding by undertaking the matter with the thought of putting my job on the line. I would like to have the meeting of the heads with Representative (of the DPJ Ichiro) Ozawa as early as possible.
Q. You said, "put my job on the line." Are you prepared to have the Cabinet resign en masse if the continuation (of the refueling activities) is not able to be achieved?
A. What I said was that all efforts must be made to allow the continuation. Under my responsibility, the responsibilities of my office, I must fulfill the responsibilities of my office by expending every ounce of my powers. (He fell silent for a while, but interrupting the moderator, who tried to turn to the next questioner, "well then, next…") Obviously, I do not intend to cling to my seat of office.
- Translation from September 10 online Mainichi
Although many people in the LDP are trying to parse this statement as an expression of his determination rather than his willingness to resign his post or, worse, if improbably, dissolve the Lower House for a general election, figures like the Yoichi Masuzoe, the outspoken Health, Labor and Welfare Minister, and (even before Mr. Abe's earlier Sept. 8 statement) Yasuhiro Nakasone, the ex-Prime Minister, are openly pointing to or even demanding, in the case of Mr. Nakasone, such an outcome.
The ruling coalition is not going to let Prime Minister Abe go the electorate on this issue if they can help it, nor do I think will they let him eat his words and stay. The thought of a new Prime Minister makes rejecting a compromise that avoids a maximum two-month hiatus a little less delectable for the DPJ. Still., it's hard to see what kind of calculations went into the Prime Minister's September 9 statement.
Bereft of a political justification, the only bit of amateur psychology that I can come up with is something I (think I) went over before in this blog: A seasoned political reporter who had covered the Prime Minister for many years told me that Mr. Abe wanted to be Prime Minister once, to fulfill his deceased father's – unrequited desires in accordance with his mother's wishes, but did not want it for himself. If you can believe that, then it makes about as much sense in the current case as anything else