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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set to resign

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Set to Resign: NHK

TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving leader, is set to step down, national broadcaster NHK reported on Friday.
Abe has told officials of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that he intends to step down, senior party leader Hiroshige Seko told reporters in a live broadcast from the NHK.
Abe, 65, wanted to avoid causing trouble for the government due to his worsening chronic disease.
“Abe intends to resign as his illness has worsened and he fears it will cause problems,” NHK said without citing a source.
Reports of Abe’s resignation emerged last week following unannounced hospital visits, raising concerns about his health.
During his first term as Prime Minister, which began in late September 2006, Abe abruptly resigned from his post in 2007 due to chronic ulcerative colitis, a bowel disease.
His current mandate was to last until September 2021.
Abe’s resignation will spark a leadership race for the LDP, the winner of which must be formally elected to parliament.
Conservative Abe returned as prime minister for a rare second term in December 2012, pledging to kick-start growth with his “Abenomics” mix of super-easy monetary policy, tax spending and reforms. He also promised to strengthen Japan’s defense and sought to revise the pacifist constitution.
On Monday, Abe broke the record for the most extended consecutive term as prime minister set by his great uncle Eisaku Sato half a century ago.
Shortly after the NHK report, Tokyo shares plunged more than 2%, with the Nikkei 225 falling 2.10%, or 486.99 points, to 22,721.87, reversing previous gains.
Under fire for his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic and scandals among party members, Abe recently saw his support drop to the lowest level in nearly eight years in office.
Japan has not suffered the explosive surge in virus cases seen elsewhere, but Abe has drawn fire for a clumsy early response and what critics see as a lack of leadership as infections spread.
In the second quarter, Japan was hit by its most significant economic recession on record, with the pandemic emptying malls and crushing demand for cars and other exports, strengthening the case for bolder policy action to avoid a deeper recession.
Abe has kept his promises to strengthen Japan’s defense, increasing military spending after years of decline and improving his ability to project his power overseas.
In a historic change in 2014, his government reinterpreted the constitution to allow Japanese troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War II.
A year later, Japan passed laws removing the ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense or defending a friendly country under attack.
But Abe proved unable to revise the pacifist Article 9 of the US-drafted post-war constitution. This personal mission also eluded his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who resigned from his post Post of Prime Minister in 1960 because of the outcry over a US-Japanese security pact.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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