Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on 28th of August 2020 informed the press about his decision to step down from Prime Minister’s post. He cited worsening of his chronic ulcerative colitis as the reason for his resignation. He had recently achieved the feat of becoming the longest-serving prime minister (number of consecutive days in office), surpassing the last record of his great uncle Eisaku Sato (2,798 days). It came as a surprise to those who did not follow Japanese news, as the speculations about his worsening health were all over Japanese news and public discourse.
He took over as the Prime Minister in December 2012, following his one year run between 2006-2007. Just a year after becoming the youngest premier in the post-war era at the age of 52, he had resigned for the same chronic intestinal disease. However, after returning to power in 2012, he claimed to have defeated the disease with a new drug.
The recent speculations about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s health started mounting with his repeated hospital visits, which his aides denied while claiming them to be regular health checkups. With the press conference yesterday, these speculations were proven right.
As reported by mainichi.jp “A Kyodo News opinion poll in July found 59.1 per cent had been discontent with the government’s handling of the pandemic. The approval rate for Mr Abe’s Cabinet, which stood at 62 per cent at the start of his second stint, came to 36.0 per cent in August.”
As is clear from the poll mentioned above, these speculations were coupled by many other criticisms like the poor handling of COVID-19 pandemic, sprouting corruption scandals in and around his cabinet, the current downturn in the Japanese economy.
Although we cannot speculate what led to this sudden change of hearts, from denying any serious health issue to stepping down from the post of Prime Minister. But, we can be sure that Mr Abe with his confidants must have made serious permutation & combination before arriving at the decision and the current situations were a part of these discussions.
Author is a journalist specializing in international relations with extensive experience working with online media. He has a keen interest in all things geopolitics and thence enjoys writing on issues pertaining to Foreign Policy, International Relations, Strategic and Security Affairs of Indo-Pacific Region.