Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in history, has resigned due to health reasons. “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,” said Abe at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday. He suffers from colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease. Under Abe, his right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had major success. Abe is known internationally for his government’s economic policies, nicknamed Abenomics, which pursue monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms.
Abe said he will remain in office until a successor is chosen. Japan is not a presidential system, instead the country’s leader is chosen by parliamentarians. A major factor that has dogged Abe during his time in office was the country’s rapidly aging population. More than a third of the Japanese population is over 65. Now, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s right hand man, is a continuity candidate. Among the candidates are deputy prime minister Taro Aso who also serves as finance minister.