Abe Shinzo has today, Friday 28th announced his resignation as the Prime Minister of Japan despite having one year to go in his current term due to health reasons after making two hospital visits in a week with the latest on Monday.
The longest-serving prime minister made this revelation to a shocked nation that the return of a chronic bowel condition had left him unable to lead the country especially in these trying times of the coronavirus pandemic.
“For almost eight years I controlled my chronic disease, however, this year in June I had a regular check-up and there was a sign of the disease,” said Abe “Poor health should not influence political decisions, and as long as I’m unable to meet the expectations of the Japanese people, I have decided that I cannot stay on as prime minister and will step down,” he said.
Born on September 21, 1954, into a political family, Abe was first elected to the house of Representatives in the1993 elections and was appointed Chief Cabinet Secretary in September 2005 by Junichiro Koizumi who he later replaced as Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President in 2006. Abe subsequently became Japan’s youngest post-war Prime Minister a position he resigned from just after a year in office due to health reasons as he had and still has colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease.
In September 2012, after recovering from his illness, Abe staged an unexpected political comeback, defeating former Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba in a vote to become LDP president and this was followed by a landslide victory in the general elections that December, taking him to the top seat for the second time. He went on to register landslide victories in the 2014 and 2017 elections.
Abe is a conservative whom various commentators have described as a right-wing nationalist. He has faced his fair share of criticism such as how he has handled the coronavirus pandemic but he is also known internationally for his government’s economic policies nicknamed Abenomics, which pursue monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms.
Shinzo Abe declined to name a successor and will stay in office until the LDP gets one. The next Prime Minister of Japan will surely be in charge of the postponed Olympics.
Olympic success and setback
One of Abe’s major domestic achievements was securing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a success that was ultimately undone by the coronavirus, which forced the competition to be postponed to 2021. An initial unwillingness to put the Games off was partly credited for Japan’s lackluster response to the coronavirus pandemic, which hit the country early in 2020 and continues to cause major issues, with much of the aged population, particularly at risk. On Friday, Abe said that as the host country, Japan would need to fulfill its responsibility. “My successor will continue to fulfill that responsibility by closely cooperating with organizers. There are various matters that we need to address,” said Abe. More successful was Abe’s handling of the abdication of Emperor Akihito, the first Japanese monarch to step down in two centuries. He was succeeded by his son, Emperor Naruhito, in October 2019, starting the Reiwa era.”Like the flowers of the plum tree blooming proudly in spring after the cold winter, we wish the Japanese people to bloom like individual flowers with the (promise of the) future. With such a wish for Japan, we decided upon ‘Reiwa’,” Abe said on announcing the new era.