The prime minister’s office hasn’t yet confirmed the suggestions on his stepping down due to health concerns, NHK says.
PM Shinzo Abe has expressed his intention to step down due to his health conditions, according to the Japanese media. However, there were no details and clear information from the PM office or the Liberal Democratic Party.
According to Abe’s office, he was believed to be meeting top ruling officials at the party headquarters on Friday.
Concerns about Abe’s chronic health issues, simmering since earlier this summer, intensified this month when he visited a Tokyo hospital two weeks in a row for unspecified health checkups.
In case of Abe’s stepping down, his Deputy Taro Aso, who is also finance minister, is first in line to take office, followed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
An acting prime minister cannot call a snap election but they lead on other matters such as treaties and budgets until a new party leader and premier is chosen.
Abe as the longest-serving Japan’s prime minister
On Monday, Mr Abe became Japan’s longest-serving PM by consecutive days in office. His term as the first minister ends in September 2021. The top Japanese official is expected to stay on until a new party leader is elected and formally approved by the parliament.
Unfortunately, Abe’s health concerns added to speculation that his days in PM office are numbered when his support ratings are already at their lowest levels. His methods to cope with COVID pandemic and its severe impact on the economy has worsened Abe’s image.
After his recent hospital visits were reported, top officials from Abe’s Cabinet and the ruling party said Abe was overworked and badly needed rest.
When he returned to office in 2012, Abe vowed to revitalize the nation and get its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.