Shinzo Abe Resigns As Japan’s Prime Minister Leaving Country In Turmoil – Markets Tumble.
In a news conference the Prime Minister said he did not want his illness to lead to mistakes with important policy decisions.
He also apologised to citizens from the bottom of his heart for not being able to fulfil his duties. The resignation will trigger a leadership race in the Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), the winner of which must be formally elected in parliament.
Japanese stocks have plummeted after the announcement prompted concerns among investors that his signature monetary and fiscal policy programme, Abenomics, might end after he leaves office.
Concerns about his health grew this week after he went to hospital twice.
Officials from the governing Liberal Democratic party (LDP) had tried to quash speculation that Mr Abe may be unable to serve out the rest of his term, due to end in September 2021.
One of Mr Abe’s hospital visits is known to have lasted almost eight hours.
The Japanese leader is known to suffer from ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition.
The severity of his condition was partly responsible for forcing him out of office after just a year during his previous term as prime minister in 2007.
The Prime Minister’s deputy, finance minister Taro Aso, is expected take over as acting Prime Minister.
However, his resignation is almost certain to spark a leadership race in the LDP.
The Japanese Prime Minister made his most recent hospital visit on the same day he became Japan’s longest-serving leader.
Shinzo Abe broke the record for consecutive days in office set by his great uncle, Eisaku Sato, half a century ago.
A senior LDP member told Kyodo that Mr Abe’s condition appeared to have flared up again but that he was “already on the mend”.
The official, who was not named, added: “I cannot imagine he will step down.”
However, Akira Amari, a senior party official and close ally, said Mr Abe appeared much healthier than the last time he saw him in mid-August.
The official said the Prime Minister was “probably exhausted mentally”, in an interview with Reuters.
He even said that his “voice was stronger and the colour had returned to his skin” when he appeared on TV on Monday.
The government’s chief spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said he met Mr Abe twice a day and had not noticed anything that indicated he was in poor health.
He said: “It’s premature to talk about ‘post-Abe’, as he still has over a year left in his term.”
Media have quoted government sources as saying Mr Abe would consult doctors again possibly over the phone.
They said the doctors would be consulted on Friday before he is due to speak to reporters at 5pm local time.
The Japanese Prime Minister is also expected to defend his handling of the coronavirus pandemic amid an apparent second wave of new infections in Tokyo.
Mr Abe has not briefed the media on the coronavirus crisis since mid-June.
However, he will reportedly outline new measures to fight the pandemic.
Reports say the Prime Minister will pledge to secure enough vaccines for the country’s entire population by early next year should one be available.