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by Sharon Rondeau

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, CC BY 4.0 International

(Aug. 28, 2020) — Japanese prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 65, is resigning his post for health reasons, he announced at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

Abe is serving his second, non-consecutive term as prime minister, having been elected most recently in 2012.  He reportedly suffers from ulcerative colitis and in 2007, resigned from the same position for cited health reasons.  His current term would have ended in just over a year.

As prime minister, Abe leads Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

President Trump has expressed deep affection for Abe, who comes from a political family; both his great-uncle and grandfather served as prime minister in past years, and his father was a foreign minister.

Abe entered politics in 1993 as a member of the Japanese House of Representatives.  In 2005-2006, he served as chief cabinet secretary under then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

During his current term, Abe had hoped to see North Korea return Japanese prisoners and to revise Article 9 of the nation’s constitution, which since World War II has prohibited Japan from engaging in “war.”

During Friday’s announcement, Abe apologized 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,” the BBC reported.

The longest-serving prime minister in the nation’s history, Abe will continue to serve until a successor is elected and approved by parliament.  He or she will then serve out the remainder of Abe’s term.

Update, August 29, 2020, 8:36 p.m. EDT:  The U.S. State Department released the following statement earlier today in response to Abe’s announced resignation:

The United States deeply values the enduring contributions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in making the U.S.-Japan relationship the strongest it has ever been. He championed our Alliance as a cornerstone of peace and security, and he advanced a free and open Indo-Pacific by working with the United States to build a network of partnerships across the region.  We thank him for his many years of dedicated service and wish him a speedy and complete recovery.


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