Health problems develop for Japan’s prime minister: must resign from position

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Alyssa Chang and Lauren Guss

   On Friday, Aug. 28, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation due to health reasons. At a press conference in Tokyo, he stated, “Even though there is one year to go in my tenure and there are challenges to be met, I have decided to stand down as prime minister,” as reported by CNN. He apologized to the Japanese people and said he did not want his illness to be in the way of political decision making.

 

   Last year, Abe had become Japan’s longest serving prime minister, his current period in office beginning in 2012. The 65-year-old prime minister has suffered from ulcerative colitis for many years, but his condition worsened rapidly recently. Colitis is a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease, which was also the reason for his resignation as prime minister back in 2007, his first term in office. 

 

   On Aug. 29, the U.S. Department of State acknowledged the prime minister’s decision by stating, “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.”

 

   According to the New York Times, some leading candidates to replace him are:

  • Yoshihide Suga– Shinzo Abe’s chief cabinet secretary
  • Fumio Kishida– former foreign minister 
  • Shigeru Ishiba– former defense minister who ran against Prime Minister Abe twice for party leadership
  • Toshimitsu Motegi – foreign minister who is a former economy minister who executed  Abe’s economic program, known as “Abenomics”
  • Taro Kono– current defense minister and former foreign minister, belongs to a new generation of politicians positioning to succeed Abe
  • Taro Aso– long-serving deputy prime minister and a former prime minister 

 

   Prime Minister Abe said he would “firmly execute [his] duty to the end,” until an official replacement has been chosen, according to BBC. His Liberal Democratic Party is electing a member to replace him and they will soon decide how to hold an election. This election will be followed by a vote to elect a new prime minister and the winner would hold the post until the end of Abe’s term in Sep. 2021.