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.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 (like this story that appeared on the MSN Sankei News site at 10:26 am). 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."
"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.
As for the Yomiuri's account of how Abe handled his chief cabinet secretary Suga Yoshihide -- the man charged not only with making policies happen but devising the cover stories -- that too is eye-opening. Suga's extraordinarily deft management of the policy agenda and the daily message have left many wondering whether he, Suga, is not indeed the de facto prime minister. The Yomiuri's account clearly puts Suga in a subservient role, left to devise a desperate strategy of damage control after failing to change the prime minister's mind on whether or not to visit Yasukuni. The revelation that the Abe statement on why he visited Yasukuni (Link) was devised by Suga after Abe had made his decision goes a long way to explaining the raging insincerity of Abe's post-visit address.
[An aside: I know that the theory that speakers look up and to the right when they are trying to retrieve concocted versions of events from memory has been tested and found wanting -- but gosh, it sure looked like Abe was doing just that during the NHK live broadcast.]
Running roughshod over the leader of the LDP's ruling coalition partner, the secretary-general of the LDP and his own chief cabinet secretary tells all three men Abe's thinking as to who is in charge and who walks three feet behind in this government. The rock hard treatment of Yamaguchi indicates further that the dinners Abe has had in the last month with the heads of the Your Party and the Japan Restoration Party (the latest being a three hour affair with Osaka City mayor Hashimoto Toru on the Emperor's birthday - Link - J) were not mere social get-togethers. Even after the fission of the Your Party in response to Abe's dinner with party leader Watanabe Yoshimi (Link - J), the number of seats held by the Your Party and the JRP in the House of Councillors are more than enough for Abe to tell Yamaguchi and the New Komeito, "You know, you can be replaced..."
Which is what "I didn't think you would agree with me" means, ultimately.