[JURIST] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [official website, in Japanese; JURIST news archive] announced his resignation [BBC English translation] on Wednesday, citing problems renewing a Japanese anti-terrorism law. His office also cited health reasons. At a news conference, Abe said he hoped his resignation would allow Japan's political parties to work together to approve the law [AP report], which would provide further support to US operations in Afghanistan:
Recently, in Sydney, I said that the mission that has been the expectation, and that has been highly regarded by the international community, in the war against terrorism should not be discontinued and that it should be continued by all means.The Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law [text], originally passed in 2001 and extended annually [MOFA press release] since, is currently slated to expire November 1. Among other things, it allows Japan to refuel allied ships in the Indian Ocean for operations relating to Afghanistan. US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer said that he hopes the renewal controversy does not become a major political issue [Mainichi Daily News report].
International contribution forms the core of the assertive diplomacy that I have advocated.
I had the responsibility to persist in this policy with everything in my power. With that thought, I said that I would make every effort and risk my job in order not to discontinue this mission.
I also said I would absolutely not cling to power. Toward this end, I had to make every effort possible.
I also felt that I had to work hard to create the environment, and that I had to give everything I have, and to do everything possible.
Today, I requested a party leaders' meeting with [opposition Democratic Party of Japan] President [Ichiro] Ozawa in order to convey my honest feelings.
Unfortunately, my proposal for the meeting was, in effect, rejected.
President Ozawa had criticised [me] before for not following the people's mandate. It is truly regrettable.
I thought about what I should do in order to continue the war against terrorism and concluded that I needed to turn the tide.
Under a new prime minister, the government should aim to continue the fight against terrorism, and to provide a breakthrough in this situation.
On Monday, Abe threatened to resign if the anti-terrorism law was not renewed. Japan's involvement in Afghanistan has caused a rift between Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) [party websites]. DPJ president Ichiro Ozawa [party profile] has voiced his opposition to Japan acting abroad in operations not sanctioned by the United Nations. The New York Times has more. The Japan Times has local coverage.