Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly stepping down from his office, a person familiar to the leader told media on Friday. The PM is supposed to address media at 5:00 PM Friday.
The president addressed the nation in a press briefing where he announced his resignation. He said he did not want health to come in between his national duties and that he will not occupy the space in the office.
“I made a judgment I should not continue my job as a prime minister,” Abe said. “I would like to sincerely apologize to the people of Japan for leaving my post with one year left in my term of office, and amid the coronavirus woes, while various policies are still in the process of being implemented.”
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK first reported the news of resignation citing the Prime Minister’s potential worsening of health conditions.
According to Reuters, Abe has battled the disease ulcerative colitis for years which is a painful chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes swelling in the digestive tract.
According to NHK, Abe, 65, was spotted visiting the hospital twice over the last two weeks, sparking speculations over his health conditions.
The public broadcaster noted, if Abe resigns, this will be the second time in the PM’s record to step down from the office following a health issue. The first time he stepped down because of the same disease was back in 2007, after serving for one year.
His return in 2012 was met with a landslide win for his party in the elections and since then he has been at the helm of the Asian cultural superpower, making him Japan’s longest-serving PM.
Abe’s term as a president of Japan from the Liberal Democratic Party was about to forfeit naturally in September next year.
This article has been updated with the latest information in the third paragraph.