Japan’s Longest Serving PM Shinzo Abe Set to Resign Due to Health Concerns: Country’s Public Broadcaster NHK Report
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to announce his resignation today (Aug 28), citing his worsening health condition, the country’s public broadcaster NHK and other local media reported.
Abe, the country’s longest serving prime minister, will hold a press conference later today, to announce his decision to step down.
Abe suffers from an an intestinal condition called ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory disease.
Incidentally Abe had resigned after his short first stint as prime minister in 2007 on health grounds. Discovery of a new drug helped him stage a recovery and he once again assumed office in December 2012. He has been at the helm of affairs ever since presiding over a period of unprecedented political stability in the country.
Speculations were rife over the health of Abe after he made repeat hospital visits over the last few weeks and failure to address press conference over the last two months.
The 65-year-old president of the LDP made a series of hospital visits in August for what his aides called a "regular health checkup" and follow-ups after he was reported as having vomited blood at the prime minister's office in early July.
Abe also faced domestic criticism for maintaining a low profile during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to the pandemic related shock, Japan experience third consecutive quarter of economic contraction that has knocked the size of real GDP to decade-low levels, erasing gains achieved by “Abenomics”, a term widely used to describe stimulus-led policy model that Abe has deployed since 20212.
Aimed at ending structural deflation that has plagued the country and revive its tepid economy, Abenomics was build around three pillars - monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms (except the last arrow, the other two are designed to give a "sugar high" to the sclerotic Japanese economy) .Abe
Despite unveiling a record $1 trillion stimulus package, Japan’s economy shrank 3.4% in the first three months (January to arch) of 2020 compared to a year ago, representing its biggest slump since 2015.
Japan was already reeling under the impact of drastic drop in consumer spending dropped after Shinzo Abe-led government last October increased a tax on consumption to 10 percent from 8 percent in a move to help pay down the national debt and and fund social services as the country’s aging population. Japan’s national debit is already the the highest among developed nations. The country’s GDP suffered a 6.4% decline during the last quarter of 2019.
The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic also resulted in steep fall of Japan’s exports. The country was also forced it to postpone the Olympics.
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