Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on August 28 announced he is resigning from his post due to declining health.
Speculation about the prime minister's health had been swirling for weeks but reached fever pitch in recent days after he made two separate trips to hospital for unspecified medical checks. He has battled the chronic disease ulcerative colitis for years.
Here's what Abe said at the news conference:
> Abe said he was stepping down as he did not want to create a “political vacancy” due to his illness. “(As the prime minister) I should continuously produce results. So, I have decided that I should not stay on as the prime minister,” Abe said.
> The 65-year-old acknowledged having ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager and has said the condition was controlled with treatment. He added that he will continue to receive medical treatment for the same.
> He said that his health started declining around the middle of July and he did not want it to impact on important policy decisions.
> Abe said “now is the best time to step down” as number of COVID-19 infections in Japan have decreased in recent days and new measures for winter have been compiled.
> Japan's longest-serving prime minister, Abe said, “To the people of Japan, I would like to appreciate your support for almost eight years. I must ask you (citizens) for your forgiveness that I am resigning now."
> Asked about the succession plan, Abe said he will leave it up to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and that he will not make any comments about the procedure. He declined to endorse any particular person as his successor.
> Asked about his expectation from the next administration, Abe said that he should not be making any “requests”. The next leadership must tackle the coronavirus-related issues, Abe added.
> “I would like to use all my experience as a lawmaker to continue to fulfil my duties as a member of the Lower House,” Abe said, when asked about his future plans.
Abe, whose term ends in September 2021, is expected to stay on until a new party leader is elected and formally approved by the parliament.
A senior member of the LDP party had earlier confirmed that Abe is stepping down.
He first became Japan’s prime minister in 2006 after being elected leader of the governing LDP. However, he resigned from the post a year later, citing health reasons.
Abe started his second stint as prime minister in 2012, embarking on his “Abenomics” policies to encourage growth through easy lending and structural reforms.On August 24, 2020, he became Japan’s longest-serving prime minister by consecutive days in office, surpassing his great uncle.