Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepping down due to ill health

28 August 2020, 06:52

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to step down due to health concerns
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to step down due to health concerns. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Shinzo Abe has confirmed his decision to step down as prime minister of Japan due to his deteriorating health

Mr Abe, who turns 66 next month, became Japan's longest-serving prime minister last November.

The prime minister's office said the report could not be immediately confirmed, but Mr Abe was believed to be meeting top ruling officials at party headquarters.

His first term ended abruptly 13 years ago because of health problems, fuelling concerns about his current condition.

He made a hospital visit for the second week in a row on Monday, later telling reporters he was there again "to get detailed results from last week's checkup and have additional examination".

"I'm making sure I'm in good health, and I plan to keep working hard," Mr Abe said, adding that he will explain his health later.

The previous week he had spent more than seven hours at Keio University Hospital in Tokyo for what officials said was an additional check-up because he did not have enough time during his earlier visit in June.

Last week's hospital visit triggered a flurry of speculation in the Japanese media about the possibility that his health was declining.

Top officials from Mr Abe's cabinet and the ruling party, including finance minister Taro Aso, said publicly that Mr Abe was overworked and badly needed rest.

Members of the media covering the prime minister's office said Mr Abe looked tired and was moving slower that usual.

During the past week, he has spent only a few hours a day in his office, and only in the afternoon.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, at a regular news conference on Monday, brushed off worries about Mr Abe's health.

"I see him every day, but I haven't noticed anything different," he said.

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