Here’s an excerpt:
The Yomiuri Shimbun: Opinion polls have shown you to be the front-runner in the race for the post-Koizumi era. Are you willing to take power?
Shinzo Abe: I’m in a position in which I must fulfill my duties as Prime Minister Koizumi’s right-hand man. I therefore must refrain from speaking out about my own political agenda.
How would you make good use of your current position as you seek to take power?
I’m still immature as a politician, really. As chief cabinet secretary, I must play a leading role in coordinating policy making processes in which all ministries and agencies are involved. I’m sure I’ll face a number of ordeals. My position will give me a chance to continue working hard as a politician.
Tight-lipped you say?
I’d say he’s made it rather clear in these comments that he fully intends to make a run for the LDP presidency next fall (not that anyone who is paying attention really needed another confirmation of this).
One of the most common criticisms of Abe as a candidate for Prime Minister is his lack of political experience. And one frequent commentary on Koizumi’s appointment of Abe as Chief Cabinet Secretary was that it was a move calculated to make up for Abe’s lack of experience. Now, here we have Abe first recognizing this weakness, and then hinting that his new role will provide ample opportunity for him to lessen it.
Don’t be surprised if next Semptember we hear it pointed out that, “when Abe first took this position, he was still rather immature as a politician. However, he’s faced a number of ordeals and come out of them more mature and experienced.”
p.s. He also wasn’t very tight-lipped about policy towards North Korea, including the use of sanctions to force the return of all abductees, even those merely “belived to be abducted.” Given the grass-roots popularity for the abductee issue, if that’s not openly campaigning for office, I don’t know what is.