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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s sudden announcement of his resignation came as a surprise, even to his close aides. Just two days before, he had delivered a policy speech at the start of the extraordinary Diet session, and 15 days before, he had reshuffled his Cabinet.

Mr. Abe’s resignation is a riddle and even illogical in view of a statement he made just on Sunday in Sydney. There he declared to the effect that he would do his utmost to extend the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s refueling activities in the Indian Ocean for naval ships of the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Pakistan in an antiterrorism support mission. He said he would stake his job as prime minister on attaining the stated goal, which he characterized as an international promise, and confirmed that he was ready to resign if he failed to attain this goal.

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