Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe on Friday said he is resigning due to worsening health. He has suffered from the chronic illness ulcerative colitis for years.

Abe, 65, announced his resignation at a press conference in Tokyo, in which he addressed his health after two recent hospital visits.  Governing party officials had said Abe’s health is fine, but the hospital visits had fuelled rumours about his ability to handle the job with another year before his term is due to expire.

“Even though there is one year to go in my tenure and there are challenges to be met, I have decided to stand down as prime minister”, Abe said.

Abe suffers from colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease, which was also a factor in his sudden resignation as prime minister in 2007.

“For almost eight years I controlled my chronic disease, however, this year in June I had a regular check-up and there was a sign of the disease. I made a judgment that I should not continue my job as prime minister. I need to fight against the disease and need to be treated”, Abe said.

Due to his handling of the coronavirus and scandals among party members, Abe’s support has fallen to one of the lowest levels of his nearly eight years in office.

In 2014, his government re-interpreted the constitution to allow Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War II.

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