Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday announced that he will resign due to poor health.
At a press conference in Tokyo, Abe, 65, said that he had been struggling with his health since mid-July and that he’s ready to leave his position to a successor as soon as his party chooses one in the next month.
“My poor health should not lead to wrong political decisions,” he said. “As I’m no longer able to meet the expectation of the mandate of the people of Japan, I have decided that I should not stay in the position as prime minister anymore. So I have decided to step down.”
Abe recently surpassed the record for the longest consecutive tenure as prime minister, which was set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato half-a-century ago.
The Japanese leader has for years battled ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel condition. He also stepped down as prime minister in 2007 after just a year in office before getting the condition under control. He returned to office in 2012.
Abe said Friday that his condition has worsened again and requires more treatment and monitoring.
His resignation will lead to a leadership battle within the Liberal Democratic Party, the winner of which must be formally elected in parliament. The new leader would hold the post for the rest of Abe’s term, which ends in September 2021.
Abe leaves an “established a stable administration” after a period of constant leadership changes, Yu Uchiyama, a political science professor at the University of Tokyo, told the Washington Post.
Video: Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Resigns Over Health Concerns (Time)