Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation because of ill-health on August 28. He will remain in his post until a successor is chosen. 65-year-old old Abe, this decision just after four days after he had set a record for the longest uninterrupted run as Japanese leader — nearly eight years — but before he had achieved some of his most cherished ambitions. Shinzo Abe had overseen Japan’s recovery from a devastating earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear disaster, restored the country to a semblance of economic health, and curried favour with an unpredictable US President Donald Trump. He has strengthened Japan's defences and boosted military spending, but has been unable to revise the constitution's pacifist Article 9, which bans a standing army for anything other than self-defence.
Mr Abe has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, but his condition was worsened recently. In 2007 he resigned abruptly from an earlier term as prime minister because of his struggles with ulcerative colitis, a chronic a condition that he has lived with since he was a teenager. He was now receiving a new treatment for the condition which had to be administered on a regular basis and would not give him enough time to carry out his prime ministerial functions.
Mr Abe also expressed regret at not fulfilling his core pledges - forcing North Korea to return Japanese citizens abducted decades ago; sorting out a territorial dispute with Russia; and overhauling the constitution to give more power to the military. Announcing his resignation at a news conference, Mr Abe spoke without the use of a teleprompter, which is unusual for him. Rather than addressing prepared questions, the prime minister mostly took questions. He seemed drained and was at times emotional as he faced the reporters. Now, the crucial question is that who will be Japan’s next PM? The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which has almost continuously been in power since 1955 has many different factions so the race is on between them to get the top job. His announcement will have automatically triggered a vote within his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to replace him as a leader. The party will decide next Tuesday how to hold an election, Kyodo news agency reports.
Those close to Mr Abe, like Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga or Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, are not necessarily the most popular among voters as his administration has faced criticism for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This election will be followed by a parliamentary vote to elect a new prime minister.
- Prabhakar Purandare