Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has announced that he will step down after a record seven years and eight months as leader, citing ill-health after a recurrence of ulcerative colitis.
Abe announced his resignation in a news conference on Friday, in which he addressed his health after two recent hospital visits.
The 65-year-old said he wanted to avoid causing problems to the government because of his worsening condition.
“I have decided to step down from the post of the prime minister,” Abe said, saying he was suffering from the same condition that ended his first term in office. “I cannot be prime minister if I cannot make the best decisions for the people.”
Abe has battled ulcerative colitis for years and two recent hospital visits within a week had fanned questions on whether he could stay in the job until the end of his term as ruling party leader, and hence, premier, in September 2021.
Governing party officials had said Abe’s health is fine but the hospital visits, one lasting more than seven and a half hours, had fuelled rumours about his ability to handle the job with another year before his term expired.