Daily US Times: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has announced his resignation for health reasons and apologised to the Japanese people for failing to complete his term in office.
He said he did not want his illness to get in the way of decision making.
The 65-year-old has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease he has lived with since he was a teenager. Mr Abe said his condition had worsened recently.
Lat year, Shinzo Abe became Japan’s longest serving prime minister and his current period in office began in 2012.
He will remain in his post until a successor is chosen.
In 2007 he resigned abruptly from an earlier term as prime minister because of his struggles with ulcerative colitis.
Mr Abe has a reputation as a staunch nationalist and conservative, and for stimulating growth with his aggressive economic policy known as “Abenomics”.
He has boosted military spending and strengthened Japan’s defences, but has been unable to revise the constitution’s pacifist Article 9, which bans a standing army for anything other than self-defence.
What did Mr Abe say?
He said his health started to decline as his ulcerative colitis made a resurgence around the middle of July.
The Prime Minister was now receiving a new treatment for the condition which had to be administered on a regular basis and would not give him enough time to carry out his prime ministerial functions.
He said he could not make any mistakes in terms of important decision making, and therefore had decided to step down.
He said: “I made a judgement I should not continue my job as a prime minister.”
He added, making a bow: “I would like to sincerely apologise 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.”
Mr Abe also expressed regret at not fulfilling his core pledges – forcing North Korea to return Japanese citizens abducted decades ago; sorting out a territorial dispute with Russia; and overhauling the constitution to give more power to the military.
Mr Abe said he would firmly execute his duty to the end until a replacement was chosen.
His announcement will have automatically triggered a vote within his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to find a new leader.
In the next Tuesday, the party will decide how to hold an election, Kyodo news agency reports.