Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned Friday because a chronic illness resurfaced and he said he did not want it to affect his decision-making.
Abe, 65, has for years suffered from ulcerative colitis, a disease that inflames the bowels. Concerns about Abe’s health began this summer and grew this month when he visited a Tokyo hospital two weeks in a row for unspecified health checkups.
He has had the condition since he was a teenager.
“It is gut-wrenching to have to leave my job before accomplishing my goals,” he said.
Abe’s term ends in September 2021. He is expected to stay on until a new party leader is elected and formally approved by the parliament.
Abe was elected in 2012 and it is the second time he has resigned as prime minister as a result of his battles with ulcerative colitis. He last stepped down in 2007.
He will leave office at a time when his approval ratings hit their lowest levels due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its severe impact on the economy.
A slew of political scandals have also dented his reputation.