Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will resign because of ill-health, public broadcaster NHK reported on Friday, as Abe prepared to hold a news conference on Friday afternoon in which he was expected to address concerns about his health after two recent hospital visits.
NHK said the 65-year-old wanted to avoid causing problems to the government because of his worsening health. The news conference is due to start at 5pm (08:00 GMT)
Ruling party officials have said Abe’s health is fine, but the hospital visits, one lasting more than seven and a half hours, have fuelled rumours about his ability to handle the job with another year before his term is due to expire.
“A lack of information has created a vacuum that people have been happy to fill with speculation,” Tobias Harris, author of The Iconoclast: Shinzo Abe and the New Japan, a biography of Shinzo Abe to be published in November, told Al Jazeera.
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On Monday, Abe marked eight years in office and became Japan’s longest-serving leader, beating a record set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato half a century ago, but his popularity has fallen to about 30 percent in recent opinion polls over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and scandals among ruling party members.
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