“Even though there is one year to go in my tenure and there are challenges to be met, I have decided to stand down as prime minister,” stated Abe at a press convention in Tokyo on Friday.

“For almost eight years I controlled my chronic disease, however, this year in June I had a regular check-up and there was a sign of the disease,” Abe stated. “I made a judgment that I should not continue my job as prime minister” stated Abe. “I need to fight against the disease and need to be treated.”

Markets reacted negatively to the announcement. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index closed down 1.4% Friday after the information broke. It initially tumbled greater than 2% earlier than paring losses. The Japanese yen, a conventional protected foreign money haven, rose 0.3% towards the US greenback.

Following his earlier resignation in 2007, Abe was reelected in 2012. Since then he has been the dominant pressure in Japanese politics, successful a landslide third term in 2017 and a fourth in 2019, regardless of multiple scandals and plummeting popularity.

Under Abe, his right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has additionally seen main success, benefiting from the fracturing of its long-term rival Democratic Party, which break up in two in 2017. Abe leaves the LDP in charge of each homes of parliament, with a big majority within the decrease House of Representatives.

That success ought to assure an LDP successor to Abe. Japan shouldn’t be a presidential system, as a substitute the nation’s chief is chosen by parliamentarians, so the subsequent LDP chief, whoever that’s, ought to have a straightforward path to turning into prime minister.


When Abe was elected to a second time period in 2012, Japan was within the financial doldrums following a long time of stagnation. He quickly launched a grand experiment popularly generally known as “Abenomics,” which included three so-called arrows — large financial stimulus, elevated authorities spending, and structural reforms — that his allies credited for reviving the nation’s economic system and boosting shopper and investor confidence.

“Japan is no longer the Japan of the past,” Abe stated in January 2020. “We have succeeded in completely breaking through the ‘wall of resignation’.”

But any success of Abenomics was largely in avoiding continued decline than prompting a serious increase, and the world’s third-largest economic system remained vulnerable all through his time in workplace. Japan tipped deeper into recession as the coronavirus hit this year.

A significant component that has dogged Abe throughout his time in workplace was the nation’s quickly getting older inhabitants.

More than a 3rd of the Japanese inhabitants is over 65, and the nation marked a new record low birth rate in 2019. The nation’s demographic decline means a shrinking cohort of staff is left supporting an more and more aged inhabitants in want of healthcare and pensions.
Despite this, Abe’s Japan largely avoided relaxing the country’s tight controls on immigration, which may have boosted the workforce. Plans to revive the nation’s fiscal health haven’t addressed the actual fact Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio stays the best amongst industrialized nations.
Abe touted the necessity for workstyle reforms, calling ladies the nation’s “most underutilized resource” and vowing to enhance gender illustration and shutting gaps within the workforce with “womenomics.” Critics say Abe didn’t manage to address the country’s gender gap or resolve points that stop ladies from greater participation in the economy.

Mixed outcomes on diplomacy

On the diplomatic entrance, too, Abe’s achievements had been blended. He cultivated robust ties with Washington — Tokyo’s conventional ally — and tried to construct a private relationship with United States President Donald Trump, touring to New York to satisfy him whereas Barack Obama was nonetheless in workplace.

During that “unofficial” meeting, Trump’s first with any world chief, Abe hailed the US-Japan alliance and stated he wished to “build trust” with the brand new President. He strongly supported Trump’s preliminary arduous line on North Korea, which matched Abe’s personal hawkish tendencies. His skill to domesticate private ties with Trump are sometimes credited as one of many greatest reasons why Japan has be capable of keep away from a commerce conflict with the US.
But as Washington’s relationship with Pyongyang tipped in the direction of diplomacy, with each Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in holding historic summits with North Korean chief Kim Jong Un, Abe gave the impression to be neglected within the chilly, scrambling for his own meeting with Kim.

The legacy of World War II, throughout which the Imperial Japanese military invaded a number of neighbors and dedicated conflict crimes and atrocities, has lengthy poisoned relations in East Asia, with suspicion of Japan remaining robust in China and the Koreas.

Many within the area — in addition to some in Japan — had been hostile to Abe’s need to rewrite the country’s post-war pacifist constitution to permit Tokyo larger leeway to construct up the Japanese army and have interaction in abroad operations. 
Early in his second time period, Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, igniting a firestorm of criticism and condemnation amongst neighboring international locations. The Yasukuni Shrine is regarded by China and the Koreas as a logo of Japan’s imperial army previous.
Throughout his time in workplace, a slow-burning dispute over sovereignty of islands within the East China Sea — known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China — threatened to boil over, although Abe additionally held a historic phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2018, a serious step ahead in relations between the 2 nations.
However, ties with a conventional ally have been much less wholesome, with a serious diplomatic spat between Japan and South Korea final yr. That dispute, during which commerce and army intelligence offers had been scrapped, was partly inspired by the legacy of World War II.

Olympic success and setback

One of Abe’s main home achievements was securing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, successful that was in the end undone by the coronavirus, which pressured the competitors to be postponed to 2021.

An preliminary unwillingness to place the Games off was partly credited for Japan’s lackluster response to the coronavirus pandemic, which hit the nation early in 2020 and continues to trigger main points, with a lot of the aged inhabitants notably in danger.

More profitable was Abe’s dealing with of the abdication of Emperor Akihito, the first Japanese monarch to step down in two centuries. He was succeeded by his son, Emperor Naruhito, in October 2019, beginning the Reiwa era.

“Like the flowers of the plum tree blooming proudly in spring after the cold winter, we wish the Japanese people to bloom like individual flowers with the (promise of the) future. With such a wish for Japan, we decided upon ‘Reiwa’,” Abe stated on saying the brand new period.

Personal life

Abe was born on September 21, 1954, in Tokyo to a distinguished political household. Both his grandfather and nice uncle served as prime minister, and his father was a former secretary normal of the LDP.

He studied politics at Tokyo’s Seiki University and the University of Southern California, however initially entered enterprise, taking a place with Kobe Steel in 1979.

Three years later nevertheless, he turned an assistant to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and in 1993 Abe was first elected to the House of Representatives, aged 38. He was reelected seven occasions, and held a variety of cupboard positions all through the 2000s.

In 2003, Abe turned secretary normal of the LDP, and 4 years later the social gathering’s president and prime minister of Japan.

His first time period was marred by controversies and worsening health, and he stepped down as social gathering chief and prime minister in 2007, finally returning to each positions in 2012.

Abe married Akie Abe, née Matsuzaki, in 1987. The couple don’t have any youngsters. As first girl, Akie Abe was extremely concerned in politics, occasionally attracting scandal and prominently disagreeing together with her husband, notably on social points. 

Kaori Enjoji reported from Tokyo. James Griffiths reported from Hong Kong.

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