Japan’s longest-serving PM Shinzo Abe to step down amid worsening health

Japan's leader Shinzo Abe has been serving as Prime Minister for 8 consecutive years. The longest in Japan's history.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will resign because of ill health, the country’s national broadcaster reported on Friday. The news comes just four days after he exceeded the record for the longest-serving leader in Japanese history.

Mr. Abe who had earlier made his intentions of stepping down clear is reported to meet top ruling officials at the party’s headquarters.

Shinzo Abe as Prime Minister

The Prime Minister in his long run oversaw Japan’s recovery from a devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, while also restoring Japan’s deteriorating economic health. He also managed to strengthen relationships with American president Donald Trump, a remarkable feat considering their histories.

The governing Liberal Democratic Party will appoint an interim leader who will serve until the party can hold a leadership election. Mr. Abe is set to stay on until a new party leader is elected and formally approved by the parliament.

Shinzo Abe deteriorating health

Speculations about Shinzo Abe’s deteriorating health has been rampant in Japanese media. His fewer public appearances suggested health concerns.  However, the rumors intensified after the prime minister was spotted visiting a Tokyo hospital two weeks in a row.

Earlier on Friday, Yoshihide Suga, Mr. Abe’s chief cabinet secretary, had reassured reporters that Mr. Abe intended to stay in office. “The prime minister himself has said he would like to work hard again from now on, and I’m seeing him every day,” Mr. Suga said in a news briefing, saying that the prime minister’s health “remains unchanged.”

Shinzo Abe is the son of a former Foreign Minister who began his term as prime minister in 2006. However, a year later he resigned office citing ulcerative colitis, a bowel disease.

His second term in 2012 was filled with scandals, however, the prime minister effectively survived it all. His peak leadership emerged during 2017 when his party won a landslide victory that gave it two-third of the seat in Parliament.

When he returned to office in 2012, Abe vowed to revitalize the nation and get its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his “Abenomics” formula. However much like his other campaign promises like corporate reform, empowering women, and changing the entrenched work culture, this one remains unfulfilled too.

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