Vastavam web: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, announced his resignation because of poor health on Friday, ending a stint at the helm of the world’s third-biggest economy in which he sought to revive growth and bolster its defences. “I have decided that I will step down as prime minister, with the belief that I cannot continue being prime minister if I do not have the confidence that I can carry out the job entrusted to me by the people,” Abe, 65, told a news conference.
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart that despite all of the support from the Japanese people, I am leaving the post with one full year left in my term and in the midst of various policies and coronavirus,” Abe said. He similarly quit in 2007 after one year as premier, citing illness. He has battled the disease ulcerative colitis for years and two recent hospital visits within a week had fanned questions on whether he could stay in the job until the end of his term as ruling party leader, and hence, premier, in September 2021.
As news of the resignation spread, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average fell 2.12% to 22,717.02, while the broader Topix shed 1.00% to 1,599.70. The selling wiped $47 billion off Tokyo’s $5.7 trillion stock market value, which had more than doubled during Abe’s tenure. Former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida both quickly expressed interest in the top job, media reported. Among others whose names have been floated is Abe’s close aide, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.