Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to resign due to health issues, according to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, citing sources close to Abe.
A government aide told CNN he heard that Abe has conveyed his desire to resign. Abe had been expected to hold a news conference later on Friday to update on the coronavirus situation in Japan.
On Monday morning, Abe visited Keio University Hospital in Tokyo for what was his second hospital visit in a week. Abe suffers from colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease, which forced him to resign during his first stint as the country’s leader from 2006 to 2007. He became Prime Minister again in 2012.
Abe is Japan’s longest-serving head of government in terms of consecutive days in office.
Coronavirus criticism: Japan has recorded more than 66,000 Covid-19 cases, and has struggled to get the pandemic under control despite being among the very first countries to be hit by the virus. Throughout the summer, as the rest of East Asia has moved to control the pace of infections, Japan’s outbreak has spiked, with more than half of all cases being recorded since July.
Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the virus, from a slow initial response and refusal to acknowledge the crisis, which many saw as linked to a desire to avoid canceling or postponing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (since pushed to next year), to the ongoing failure to take sufficient action to rein in cases.
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