Posted August 28, 2020 1:28 pm by

Japan’s PM Abe resigning for health reasons

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he would step down over health problems © POOL/AFP / Franck ROBICHON

Tokyo, Japan, Aug 28 – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Friday he will resign, ending his record-breaking tenure in a bombshell development that kicks off a leadership race in the world’s third-largest economy.

Abe said he is suffering a recurrence of the ulcerative colitis that forced him to cut short a first term in office and said that he no longer felt able to continue as prime minister.

“There must not be time when I am not able to deliver results,” he said, speaking in a calm but sombre voice.

“Now that I am not able to fulfil the mandate from the people with confidence, I have decided that I should no longer occupy the position of the prime minister.”

While speculation about Abe’s political future has been growing in recent weeks, after he twice visited hospital for unspecified health checks, the resignation nonetheless came as a surprise.

Even as recently as Friday morning, the government’s spokesman had appeared to dismiss concerns about Abe’s health and suggested he would stay on in office.

But Abe made clear that would not be possible, and offered apologies for once again having to cut short his tenure.

“I would like to sincerely apologise to the people of Japan for leaving my post with one year left in my term of office, and amid the coronavirus woes, while various policies are still in the process of being implemented,” he said, bowing deeply.

– ‘A big surprise’ –

Abe said he would “firmly execute my duty to the end,” and until the next prime minister is appointed, a process that is expected to require a leadership election involving ruling party lawmakers and members.

Japan’s PM Abe resigning for health reasons

The bombshell decision brings an end to Abe’s record-breaking term in office and kicks off a race to succeed him © AFP / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU

The resignation shocked the markets, with Tokyo stocks plunging more than two percent towards the end of afternoon trade when reports of Abe’s decision first emerged.

“It was a big surprise”, said Shinichi Nishikawa, a professor of political science at Meiji University in Tokyo.

“His resignation comes at a time when Japan is facing tough issues, including measures against the coronavirus,” Nishikawa told AFP.

“There may be political confusion.”

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