Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister resigns for health reasons

Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in history, has resigned, citing health reasons.

"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," said Abe at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, adding that he would like to apologize to the people of Japan for being unable to fulfill his duties during the coronavirus pandemic.

Abe, 65, suffers from colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease, which was also a factor in his sudden resignation as prime minister in 2007, ending his first term after just over a year in office.

On Monday morning, Abe visited Keio University Hospital in Tokyo for what was his second hospital visit in a week.

"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 added.

"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."

Following his previous resignation in 2007, Abe was reelected in 2012. Since then he has been the dominant force in Japanese politics, winning a landslide third term in 2017 and a fourth in 2019.

When Abe was elected to a second term in 2012, Japan was in the economic doldrums following decades of stagnation.

He soon launched a grand experiment popularly known as "Abenomics," which included three so-called arrows -- massive monetary stimulus, increased government spending, and structural reforms -- that his allies credited for reviving the country's economy and boosting consumer and investor confidence.

"Japan is no longer the Japan of the past," Abe said in January 2020. "We have succeeded in completely breaking through the 'wall of resignation'."

(CNN)

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