Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigns thanks to chronic illness

Japan's longest-serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned Friday because a chronic illness resurfaced and he said he didn't want it to affect his decision-making.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigns thanks to chronic illness

Abe, 65, has for years suffered from colitis, a disease that inflames the bowels. Concerns about Abe’s health began this summer and grew this month when he visited a Tokyo hospital fortnight during a row for unspecified health checkups.

He has had the condition since he was an adolescent.

"It is gut-wrenching to possess to go away my job before accomplishing my goals," he said.

Abe's term ends in September 2021. He’s expected’ to remain on until a replacement party leader is elected and formally approved’ by the parliament.

Abe was elected’ in 2012 and it's the second time he has resigned as prime minister as a results of his battles with colitis. He last stepped down in 2007.

He will quit at a time when his approval ratings hit their lowest levels thanks to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its severe impact on the economy.

A slew of political scandals have also dented his reputation.

Shigeru Ishiba, a 63-year-old hawkish former defense minister and Abe’s archrival, may be a favorite next leader in media surveys, though he's less popular within the ruling party.

A low-key former secretary of state Fumio Kishida, Defense Minister Taro Kono, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is responsible of coronavirus measures, also are widely speculated in Japanese media as his potential successors.

When he returned to office in 2012, Abe vowed to revitalize the state and obtain its economy out of its deflationary doldrums together with his "Abenomics" formula, which mixes fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.


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