In honor of the zeitgeist, I will address the subject directly, though he is not really here.
Forgive me for addressing you as an equal. I know you are not used to it.
Abe-san, you frighten me. On Wednesday the 29th, you went to the offices of Machimura Nobutaka, your faction leader, to tell him you are running for the position of president of the Liberal Democratic Party. (E)
I knew relations between you and Machimura were bad. I knew this on April 23, when the Machimura faction held its annual fundraising party. I was there; you were not.
Incidentally, the take at the party you did not attend? 600 million yen. Not bad for a guy whose leadership you fail to respect.
I hope, I pray that you told Machimura of your intention to run only to dissuade Machimura himself from running, as he has indicated he might. I hope, I pray that your formation of a study group, the usual first step toward a run for the presidency, is just a feint. I hope, I pray that the sixty-one lawmakers signed up for your study group are just a show of force by what used to be called the "non-mainstream" segment of the LDP, not the nucleus of an actual support group.
I hope, I pray that on September 14, your name will not be among the roster of candidates.
As a defender of the Democratic Party of Japan, which has never had a serious chance at undoing 54 years of LDP malfeasance, I should be dancing a jig on the tatami. There is no potential leader of the LDP that the DPJ would rather run against. You have foreign policy prescriptions that would have would have the entire region in flames (You have limited your study group's focus to the revitalization of Japan's economy so maybe even you have some awareness of just how inflammatory your security views are). Your silver-spoon-in-mouth upbringing just irks, in comparison to DPJ leader Noda Yoshihiko's relatively modest beginnings and Hashimoto Toru's emergence from the muck. Your history of political thuggery, of simply ignoring the opposition (Remember June 30, 2007, the last day any business got done in the House of Councillors prior to the election? The vote after vote in the morning, every one with the same result: 123 to 96, 123 to 96, again and again? Remember how the opposition just gave up over the lunch break and did not return?) will be disinterred. Your groveling lust for power, refusing to follow the LDP's tradition of the party president resigning after the party suffers a humiliating electoral loss, will be revisited. The chaos that your refusal caused, making unclear exactly who was running the country in August 2007, will be page 4 analysis again.
And of course, your suddenly quitting as prime minister, after saying you would not. For medical reasons, even though you never mentioned them in your resignation speech.
Abe-san, you may not remember that last stunning week, almost exactly five years ago.
Let me help you.
You came back on Sunday night, from the APEC meeting in Sydney, burnt out. August had been a terrible month for you, with many of your party members screaming at you to resign, with Aso Taro conspiring with Yosano Kaoru to replace your "friends of Shinzo" cabinet with one to their and the faction leaders' liking. Your trip to India, Malaysia and Indonesia had been a complete bust politically and left you physically debilitated from the food and the travel. The Cabinet was reshuffled and blew up almost immediately, with Minister Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Endo Takehiko forced to resign after a week in office -- not at your request, but at the request of Aso and Kaoru, who had arranged to have themselves appointed LDP Secretary-General and Chief Cabinet Secretary, respectively.
Then came summit in Sydney. You promised Prime Minister John Howard and President George Bush that Japan would be their stalwart ally on the global stage, when you knew full well that upon returning to Tokyo Ozawa Ichiro's majority in the House of Councillors was going yo kill Japan's participation in Operation Enduring Freedom.
It was the last straw.
Upon your arrival back in Tokyo, you told Aso, who was waiting for you, "I cannot go on."
Unfortunately for you, you chose as your confidant a man with zero sensitivity as to human frailty, a man who when he became prime minister a year later appointed an alcoholic as his minister of finance, in the midst of the worst financial crisis the world had known in eighty years*.
He told you to gambaru, the most heartless and vapid of wishes.
The next day, Monday, you delivered a policy address opening the extraordinary session of the Diet that was so pugnacious and ambitious, it sounded delusional.
You somehow made it through Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, however, either you or someone near you decided you were finished, done, finito, deep-fat fried. You resigned in the afternoon, claiming you were not capable of saving the Indian Ocean dispatch legislation.
Then on Thursday morning, you left the office of prime minister prematurely, never to return.
Abe-san, do you remember how you left?
Not in the back of ambulance, like most persons suffering from acute, chronic gastroenteritis would. Not with your loving wife beside you. Not with a doctor monitoring you. Not having arranged a formal transfer of your prime ministerial powers to another member of the Cabinet.
No, in the back car of a two-car motorcade packed with panicked SPs (Japan Secret Service) with you in the back seat of the second vehicle, barreling through traffic to the Keio University Hospital.
I will be honest: your breaking down was the first hint I ever caught of your being human. Your previous behavior, until the voters of Japan liberated us of you, left me speechless with horror.
Which is why I am terribly afraid at the news you want to be LDP president again.
The LDP, the country, does not need a leader as brittle and fragile as a glass vase, especially as the next LDP leader will be facing a political situation many times more complex, more poisonous and more energy-sapping that the one that felled you in 2007. The LDP, the country does not a new improved bullet proof Abe Shinzo either. You are the archetype of the fantabulist conservative, a man who disdains his country and its people, wanting through revisions of the education system and the Constitution to create a new citizenry, replacing the one you cannot stomach.
Whichever Abe Shinzo you are, after your five years of rest, you should not be running for the presidency of the LDP.
* A belated word of praise for the bizarrely departed Nakagawa Shoichi. To his eternal credit, until that fateful plane flight to Italy, he had remained, probably for the longest period of his adult life, clean and sober. He was an addict, in the grips of a terrible addiction, yet for the good of the country and world he toughed it out.