The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has announced plans to step down due to health problems from ulcerative colitis.
Abe, who was the longest-serving premier of the country, said that he would continue to work as prime minister to avoid vacuum but will leave immediately the next prime minister emerge.
He has long suffered from the chronic illness which was said to have forced him to step down in 2007, only a year after becoming the country’s youngest premier in the postwar era at age 52.
The 65-year-old premier, while announcing his resignation plans on Friday, noted that numbers of COVID-19 infections have decreased and that new measures for winter have been compiled which indicated that it was the best time to step down.
Abe, however, declined to endorse anyone as his successor and announced plans to continue his work as a lawmaker when his health improves as well as contests for next Lower House election.
The premier, who currently serves as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was said to have been considering his health status and his role as prime minister since June when the ailment intensified.
As gathered, the prime minister did not want to cause a sudden vacancy due to his health, and that new PM needs to be in place before Japan faces influenza and COVID-19 this autumn/winter.
There was widespread speculation about his health in recent weeks as he kept a low profile without holding any press conferences for nearly 50 days between mid-June and early August and had a series of hospital visits.