Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in history, has announced his resignation due to severe health issues.
Abe at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, August 28 stated;
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. I cannot be prime minister if I cannot make the best decisions for the people. It is gut wrenching to have to leave my job before accomplishing my goals.
The Prime Minister expressed;
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. I made a judgment that I should not continue my job as prime minister. I need to fight the disease and need to be treated.
He apologized to the people of Japan for being unable to fulfill his duties during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 65-year-old has suffered from the disease ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition impacting the large intestine. He had visited a hospital twice over the past weeks, fueling speculation that his days in office were numbered.
Abe, who resigned in 2007 before he was re-elected in 2012, said he has decided to resign after a medical examination on Monday.
He revealed that he was receiving a new treatment for the condition, which needed to be administered on a regular basis which would not leave him with sufficient time to discharge his duties.
Abe will stay on as a member of parliament, as long as his health allows for it. There will now be a leadership race in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party within the next few weeks.
However, Abe has refused to comment on who he favors as a successor.
The governing Liberal Democratic Party is expected to appoint an interim leader who will serve until the party can hold a leadership election, according to NHK.
The leading candidates to replace Abe include Taro Aso, the long-serving deputy prime minister, and a former prime minister; Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary to Abe; Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister who once ran against Abe for party leader; Fumio Kishida, a former foreign minister; and Taro Kono, the current foreign minister.