TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will step down from his post due to health concerns, a source from his ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Friday.
Abe, who has been premier since December 2012 following his first one-year stint in the post between 2006 and 2007, just recently achieved the feat of staying in the top government post for the longest uninterrupted term in the country’s history.
The 65-year-old president of the LDP made a series of hospital visits in August for what his aides called a “regular health checkup” and follow-ups after he was reported as having vomited blood at the prime minister’s office in early July.
Questions about Abe’s health have been raised from time to time after he abruptly resigned due to worsening of his chronic illness — ulcerative colitis — in 2007, only a year after becoming the country’s youngest premier in the postwar era at age 52.
After returning to power in 2012, Abe said he had overcome the intestinal disease with the help of a new drug. On Aug. 24, he became Japan’s longest-serving prime minister by number of consecutive days in office, eclipsing the previous record of 2,798 days held by his great uncle Eisaku Sato (1901-1975).
But Abe’s health came under fresh scrutiny with his repeated hospital visits after he kept a low profile without holding any press conferences for nearly 50 days between mid-June and early August, despite calls for him to explain the government’s handling of the coronavirus to the public.