Japan’s longest-serving prime minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation on Friday due to his ill health, in a surprise development that kicks off a leadership contest in the world’s third-largest economy.
Mr Abe, 65, bowed in apology as he confirmed in a press conference that he was stepping down after nearly eight years at the political helm following a recurrence of a chronic inflammatory bowel condition.
“I apologise from the bottom of my heart that despite all of the support from the Japanese people, I am leaving the post with one full year left in my term and in the midst of various policies and coronavirus,” he said.
His announcement brings to an end weeks of intense media speculation surrounding the health of Mr Abe, who has suffered from the condition ulcerative colitis since his teens.
During the press conference announcing his resignation, Mr Abe expressed regret at failing to resolve the longstanding issue of North Korean abductions as well as not yet carrying out his long-cherished dream of reforming the pacifist constitution.
“It is going to take a long time for Japan to see a long-standing administration again,” Tsutomu Soma, a bond trader at Monex Inc. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg. “Having a stable government had helped the country pursue various reforms, but political jitters could risk Japan’s position in the international arena.”
It is Mr Abe’s second time to resign as prime minister over health issues, having previously ended a one-year stint in power in 2007 due to the same medical condition before returning to power in 2012.
By Danielle Demetriou
Source: The Telegraph
August 28, 2020, 12:34 PM GMT+7