Longest serving prime minster in Japan’s history has been in office since 2012.

Generally speaking, Japan’s prime ministers don’t last very long in office. In a four year span from September 2007 to September 2011, for example, five different politicians held the position, one of whom was shuffled out after just 266 days.

But since December 26, 2012, Shinzo Abe has been the highest-ranking member of the Japanese government, making him the country’s longest-serving prime minister ever. However, Abe’s term will be coming to an end, as he announced that he will be resigning during a press conference in Tokyo on Friday afternoon.

The revolving-door nature of Japan’s top office has regularly been the result of resignations due to political scandal or as a means of apologetically taking responsibility for failed or unpopular policies of the administration. Abe’s resignation is prompted by neither, though, and is a result of health complications.

▼ Abe announcing his planned resignation

At the conclusion of a press conference on government coronavirus countermeasures, Abe revealed that he has had a resurgence of ulcerative colitis, a condition in which the colon and bowels become painfully and dangerously inflamed. Abe had been diagnosed with the condition several years ago (it was considered a contributing factor in his resignation from his first stint a prime minister, which ended in 2007) but had successfully recovered. However, during a regular health check-up in June of this year doctors found signs of recurrence.

Abe continued working through June and July while taking medication, but suffered from exhaustion and twice this month went to the hospital, leading to speculation in the media and political circles about his health. Doctors have now prescribed a second medication to be taken in tandem with the first, and while the combination is proving effective, is condition still requires a great deal of caution, and Abe feels he will not be able to adequately perform his duties long-term.

“In government, producing positive results is the most important thing. Making poor governmental decisions while suffering from pain and exhaustion, and failing to produce positive results, in unacceptable,” Abe said in announcing his intent to resign.

An interim prime minster will not be appointed, and Abe will continue to serve as prime minster until the Diet holds an election to determine his successor, the timetable for which is expected to be decided upon on Monday.

Sources: NHK News Web (1, 2)
Top image: Wikipedia/Lee Gok Da
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