Japan’s PM Abe, resigns citing ‘health issues’

By Special Correspondent

Tokyo: The man responsible for Japan’s massive progress and prosperity, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, shocked millions of Japanese on Friday by announcing to resign from his post. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier announced on Friday , he was resigning because of poor health. His announcement has sent shocking waves among millions of Japanese including his followers and critic alike.

“I cannot be prime minister if I cannot make the best decisions for the people. I have decided to step down from my post,” Abe, 65, told a news conference on Friday.

Media reports suggested that Abe 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 .N225 fell 2.12 per cent to 22,717.02, while the broader Topix .TOPX shed 1.00pc to 1,599.70. The selling wiped $4.7 billion off Tokyo’s $5.7 trillion stock market value, which had more than doubled during Abe’s tenure.

Speculations have been doing the rounds in Tokyo as well as World’s Capitals including Washington, London, Shanghai and Islamabad following his announcement. Many believe that his resignation will trigger a leadership race in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) – most likely in two or three weeks – and the winner must be formally elected in parliament. The new party leader will hold the post for the rest of Abe’s term.

According to Reuters, whoever wins the party poll is likely to keep Abe’s reflationary “Abenomics” policies as Japan struggles with the impact of the novel coronavirus, but may have trouble emulating the political longevity that may be Abe’s biggest legacy.

“The broad picture remains in tact. In terms of economic and fiscal policy, the focus remains very much on reflation,” said Jesper Koll, senior adviser to asset manager WisdomTree Investments.

It was second time Mr. Abe will resign as Prime Minister. First time, he resigned from his first stint as prime minister in 2007, citing ill-health after a year plagued by scandals in his cabinet and a huge election loss for his ruling party. He had since kept his illness in check with medicine that was not previously available.

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