Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation on Friday, apologizing to people of Japan for not being able to continue his duties as the prime minister for rest of his term, as a result of underlying health problems.
In his statement he said, “I made a judgement I should not continue my job as a prime minister,” he then added, “I would like to sincerely apologise to the people of Japan for leaving my post with one year left in my term of office, and amid the coronavirus woes, while various policies are still in the process of being implemented,” while making a bow.
Pained to hear about your ill health, my dear friend @AbeShinzo. In recent years, with your wise leadership and personal commitment, the India-Japan partnership has become deeper and stronger than ever before. I wish and pray for your speedy recovery. pic.twitter.com/JjziLay2gD
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 28, 2020
What are the health issues?
The 65 year old has suffered from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, since he was a teenager.
In 2007 he had to abruptly resign from a term as prime minister because of his struggles with the said disease and its chronic condition, however his condition is said to have worsened during last few weeks, he is now receiving a new treatment for the condition which had to be administered on a regular basis and would not give him enough time to carry out his prime ministerial functions.
Shinzo Abe’s tenure as a Prime Minister
Following his previous resignation in 2007, Abe, leading the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was re-elected in 2012. Since then he has been the dominant force
in Japanese politics, winning a landslide third term in 2017 and a fourth in 2019.
Over a period of time in his political career, Mr. Abe has built a reputation of a conservative and nationalist leader and that can be seen in his growth stimulating, aggressive economic policies and strong diplomatic ties.
After being elected as the PM for the second time in 2012, in a nation that was suffering from decade long stagnation and recession, he launched the famous ‘Abenomics’ policy that focused on three key areas i.e. massive monetary stimulus, increased government spending, and structural reforms.
The policy is appreciated to have avoided the ever so long decline in the economy and has been credited for reviving the country’s economy and boosting consumer and investor confidence.
.@AbeShinzo has achieved great things as PM of Japan – for his country and the world. Under his stewardship the UK-Japan relationship has gone from strength to strength in trade, defence and our cultural links. Thank you for all your years of service and I wish you good health.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 28, 2020
Mr. Abe has called women the country’s “most underutilized resource” and vowed to improve gender representation and closing gaps in the workforce with “womenomics.” However, critics say Abe did not manage to address the country’s gender gap or resolve issues that prevent women from greater participation in the economy.
Mr. Abe developed a close personal relationship with Mr. Trump, that is believed to have averted punishing trade deals or demands that Japan pay more to support close to 55,000 American troops on bases across the country.
He also held together a coalition of 11 countries around the Pacific Rim in a trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after the Trump administration pulled the United States out.
Also important to mention is, before the pandemic and China’s increasingly authoritarian moves in Hong Kong and around the South China Sea, Mr. Abe had pursued warmer ties with China and its leader, Xi Jinping, reversing years of frosty relations.
Though his policies have helped stabilise the economy and make Japan an important player in international setup, there are certain points of criticism towards his inability to keep his promises on issues like country’s demographic decline, inability to revise the constitution’s pacifist Article 9, which bans a standing army for anything other than self-defence, and more recently, the public’s dissatisfaction with Mr. Abe’s handling of the coronavirus, particularly its effects on the economy.
He also, expressed regret for not being able to fulfill his core pledges that included forcing North Korea to return Japanese citizens abducted decades ago; sorting out a territorial dispute with Russia; and overhauling the constitution to give more power to the military.
Who succeeds Abe?
The potential successors will include, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida.
However, Abe will remain in office till one such person is chosen, who will then hold office till end of Abe’s term in September 2021.