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Japan Stocks Drop, Yen Strengthens As PM Shinzo Abe Resigns Over Health Concerns

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Japan Stocks Drop, Yen Strengthens As PM Shinzo Abe Resigns Over Health Concerns

After being the Prime Minister of Japan for the longest uninterrupted term in history, Shinzo Abe is considering resigning due to health concerns, several local media reports suggested Friday. He confirmed the report himself later in the morning.

What Happened: The 65-year-old Abe, prime minister since December 2012, reportedly vomited blood in his office in early July and has subsequently visited the hospital for what his aides described as a “regular health checkup,” according to the Mainichi, a Japanese newspaper.

The prime minister on a prior occasion quit his post in 2007 due to a chronic ailment, which is reported to be ulcerative colitis.

"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," Abe said at a press conference. "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. I made a judgment that I should not continue my job as prime minister. I need to fight the disease and need to be treated."

Why It Matters: The Nikkei 228 index was down1.21% at 22,928.53 at press time after the news of the prime minister’s resignation broke.

The Japanese Yen strengthened 0.26% to 106.25 against the dollar at press time.

Abe’s health fuelled uncertainty as he failed to hold a press conference for nearly 50 days between mid-June and early-August, even as demands were made that he explain the Japanese government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, noted the Mainichi. 

The 2020 Olympics, which were due to be held in Tokyo, have been postponed to the summer of 2021 due to the pandemic.

The prime minister had sought to revive Japan through the games.

“I want to create momentum for Japan to rise in the world again,” Abe said, referring to the Olympics held in 1964 that catapulted the country to economic success after the Second World War, reported the Japan Times.

 

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