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Japan's Shinzo Abe says to resign due to health problem
Tokyo, August 28, 2020
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today formally announced his plans to resign from office due to health issues related to the relapse of an inflammatory bowel disease.
Abe, 65, told a press conference here that the recurrence of the ulcerative colitis had shown up during a regular medical check-up he had undergone in June.
Broadcaster NHK quoted him as saying that, as his condition worsed around mid-July, he began feeling physically worn down. He said the doctors confirmed the relapse in early August.
Abe said he was given a new type of medicine in addition to the one he's been taking. He said a follow-up examination on Monday showed the new medicine was working, but it has to be taken continuously and the outlook is unclear, the NHK report said.
Abe said the most important thing in politics is to produce results. He said he should never be allowed to make political misjudgments, weighed down by his illness, treatment and lack of physical strength.
He said that, now that he can no longer confidently respond to the people's mandate, he should not remain in his post.
Abe said he struggled in deciding about when to announce his departure, given the coronavirus outbreak. But he said he chose this timing due to the recent declining trend in infections. He also cited Friday's agreement by a government task force on a new set of policies to deal with the virus toward winter.
Abe apologised to the people for quitting amid the pandemic and before realizing many policies. He expressed the utmost regret for failing to resolve the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals.
He also said it also breaks his heart to leave half way through his wish to conclude a peace treaty with Russia and amend Japan's Constitution.
Abe indicated that he would continue to carry out his duties until a new prime minister is in place.
Before making the announcement, Abe met officials of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party about his intention to resign.
LDP officials and Abe held an urgent meeting at party headquarters to discuss the prime minister's decision .
According to the report, the Prime Minister had visited a hospital twice in the past two weeks, setting off speculation about his health.
This will be the second time that Abe has left the top job because of a medical issue. He had to quit in 2007 because of the inflammatory bowel disease after just a year in office.
He returned to office in 2012 after a landslide election win in the Lower House.
This seven-year tenure makes him Japan's longest-serving leader ever. He has one more year of his term left.
His term as president of the Liberal Democratic Party will run out in September next year, the report said.