Abe, whose term ends in September 2021, is expected to stay on until a new party leader is elected and approved by the Parliament
Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said on Friday that he intends to step down because a chronic health problem has resurfaced. He told reporters that it was “gut wrenching” to leave so many of his goals unfinished. Concerns about Abe’s health began this summer and grew this month when he visited a Tokyo hospital two weeks in a row for unspecified health checkups. Abe has acknowledged having ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager and has said the condition was controlled with treatment. Abe, whose term ends in September 2021, is expected to stay on until a new party leader is elected and formally approved by the Parliament. In a country once known for its short-tenured Prime Ministers, the departure marks the end of an unusual era of stability that saw the Japanese leader strike up strong ties with President Donald Trump even as Abe’s ultra-nationalism riled the Koreas and China.
While he pulled Japan out of recession, the economy has been battered anew by the coronavirus pandemic, and Abe has failed to achieve his cherished goal to formally rewrite the US-drafted pacifist constitution because of poor public support. Abe is a political blue blood who was groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation with a stronger military and bigger role in international affairs.
Hiroshige Seko, a party secretary general for the Upper House of the Parliament, confirmed that Abe told party executives he is resigning as Prime Minister.Seko said Abe said he decided to resign in order not to cause trouble. Concerns about Abe’s chronic health issues, simmering since earlier this summer, intensified this month when he visited a Tokyo hospital two weeks in a row for unspecified health checkups.