Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced his resignation after 8 years on Friday, citing his ongoing health issues.
“Even though there is one year to go in my tenure and there are challenges to be met, I have decided to stand down as prime minister,” stated Abe at a press conference in Tokyo.
Abe suffers from ulcerative colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease, which had caused him to resign back in 2007 as well, after having served in office for just over a year.
“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,” said Abe. He bowed down in apology for leaving the post a year before his tenure officially ends.
Although he had the chronic disease under control for the last eight years, in June this year, signs of the disease appeared again. “ I cannot be prime minister if I cannot make the best decisions for the people. I have decided to step down from my post”, said Abe. “I need to fight the disease and need to be treated,” he added.
This announcement brings an end to all the speculations about Abe and his health condition around his several visits to the hospital in just the past couple of weeks.
Just at the beginning of the past week, Prime Minister Abe surpassed the record for the longest consecutive tenure in office, which was set by his Great-Uncle Eisaku Sato 50 years ago.
This resignation brings forward a bid to who will lead the world’s third largest economy, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, confusion around Olympics 2020 and all of its economic impacts.
Since Japan’s leaders are chosen by parliamentarians, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is likely to hold an election to choose the next Prime Minister.
Even though no names have been released so far, potential candidates include, former minister Shigery Ishiba, chief cabinet secretary Yoshida Suga and defence secretary Taro Kono.
With long-term rival democratic Party splitting in 2017, the LDP is in control of both houses of parliament, with a large majority in the lower House of Representatives. This should guarantee an LDP successor. Abe stated that he will remain in office until his successor is chosen.
Simona Shrestha is a sub-editor at Kathmandu Pati English, covering politics, peace, conflict, security, defence and diplomacy issues. She is a student at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, pursuing a major in Environment and Development Studies. She previously worked at Nest Media, where she was an editorial coordinator. Her areas of interest include the intersection between sustainability and development. You can find her on Linkedin as Simona Shrestha