Aug. 28 (UPI) — Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, announced Friday that he will resign due to health issues.
Abe announced his resignation during a press conference Friday evening in Tokyo where he told reporters that his health had been deteriorating since mid-July and he did not want his failing condition to affect the government.
“My poor health should not lead to wrong political decisions,” he said. “As I’m no longer able to meet the expectation of the mandate of the people of Japan, I have decided that I should not stay in the position as prime minister anymore. So, I have decided to step down.”
Abe’s resignation follows speculation over his health after he made several hospital visits in August and amid reports he had vomited blood at his office in early July.
The 65-year-old has suffered from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, which caused him to resign during the first year of his first term as prime minister in 2007.
Abe returned to power in 2012 when his Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections.
During his tenure, Japan experienced relative stability under his so-called Abenomics growth strategy of government spending, structural reforms and monetary easing but he has since come under criticism for his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has battered the economy.
Abe, who had one year left on his term that began in 2019, said he will remain in office until a successor is chosen.
“For almost eight years I controlled my chronic disease, however, this year in June I had a regular check-up and there was a sign of the disease,” he said. “I made a judgment that I should not continue my job as prime minister. I need to fight against the disease and need to be treated.”
His resignation comes days after he became the world’s third-largest economy’s longest-ruling leader on Monday.