Japan PM Abe stepping down over health

World

Tokyo – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to resign over health problems, reported media on Friday, in a bombshell development that will end a record-setting tenure with no clear successor yet in place.

There was no immediate confirmation of the reports, which came hours before Abe was due to give a press conference to address speculation about his health.

The unexpected news sent Tokyo stocks plunging more that 2 percent, with the benchmark Nikker 225 index reversing earlier gains.

Abe’s resignation will ignite a race for the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party while Japan is struggling to deal with the impact of Covid-19, a deep economic downturn and disputes with its neighbours in China and South Korea.

Hiroshige Seko, head of the LDP in the upper house of parliament and one of Abe’s closest allied in politics, said the prime minister had opted to quit now rather than risk a chaotic exit when his health deteriorated.

“He will continue as leader until his successor is decided,” said Seko.

 

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