December 27, 2013 § 2 Comments
The Yomiuri Shimbun has published an account of the events leading up Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine two days ago. If the timeline and the quotations in the story are accurate — and there is no reason to doubt that they are — a picture emerges of a ruthless Abe, unbound by courtesy or caution in his dealings with his most prominent political allies.
Here is the snippet on Abe’s call to Yamaguchi Natsuo, the leader of the party whose House of Councillors votes Abe relies upon to guarantee the passage of legislation:
“I’ll visit the shrine at my own discretion,” Abe told Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of New Komeito, the junior coalition partner of his Liberal Democratic Party, over the phone at about 11 a.m. on Thursday, about 30 minutes before he headed to the shrine.
“I cannot support that,” Yamaguchi told Abe.
“I didn’t think you’d agree with me,” Abe said before hanging up the phone.
Abe also informed LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba of his intention to visit the shrine in the same morning.
What the Yomiuri narrative fails to clarify is that Yamaguchi and Ishiba already knew Abe was on his way to Yasukuni before the PM made his courtesy calls. Major news outlets began publishing and airing alerts regarding the Abe visit 30 minutes prior to Abe’s 11 a.m. call to Yamaguchi. Ishiba found out about the visit from the reporters covering him, when they all started shouting at him, “What is your opinion of the prime minister visiting Yasukuni?” An exasperated Ishiba replied, “Why are you all asking me my opinion of a Yasukuni visit?” The reporters shouted back, “Because it has been announced!” Ishiba, trying to appear nonchalant, turned and walked away, repeating the news to himself, “Oh, it’s been announced. Hmmmm.” read more