TOKYO: The country’s longest-serving prime minister, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is set to resign, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Abe, who struggled with ulcerative colitis for many years, wanted to see if his condition deteriorated and the government was not affected, public broadcaster NHK had previously said.
Here are the highlights of Abe’s record since he returned to power in December 2012. He ended the first troubled prime minister of 2006-2007 by abruptly abandoning the cause of the illness.
COVID-19 Response, Scandals
Japan has not experienced the explosive coronavirus outbreak, but the recent rise of infections has raised fears that the Abe economy is placing too much emphasis on health.
Abe has drawn fire for the initial response to the outbreak, and critics have called it quackery and, more recently, a lack of leadership, including some media appearances.
Scandals over his response, as well as scandals involving the arrest of the former justice minister and his lawmaker’s wife on suspicion of vote-buying, have lost Abe’s rating.
A weekend survey by Kyodo news agency showed Abe’s voter support at 36.0%, down from 38.8% the previous month and the second lowest since he returned to office in 2012.
Abe’s signature “Abenomics” policies eased last year and fiscal spending as the US-China trade war hit exports and the domestic sales tax hike hurt business and consumer sentiment.
The epidemic has now hit Japan’s largest recession. The third quarter downturn pushed real gross domestic product (GDP) to a decade-low, wiping out the benefits of “abenomics”.
Critics have said that Abe relies heavily on its monetary and fiscal policy without following the “third arrow” of structural reform to achieve long-term growth despite a rapidly aging and shrinking population.
After years of decline Abe increased defense spending and expanded the military’s ability to project power abroad.
In a historic change in 2014, his government enacted a postwar, pacifist constitution for the first time since World War II, allowing the army to fight abroad.
The following year, the legislation ended a ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense or protecting a friendly country under attack.
However, Abe, who faces divisive public opinion, says the U.S. government has not. Self-defense forces, known as Japan’s military, have not achieved their long-term goal of revising the drafted constitution by writing Article 9 of the pacifist.
Abe US President Donald Trump has fostered warm personal ties with them and avoided the worst results on the business. Although the regional line and Beijing’s hold of Hong Kong have been breeding grounds, they have seen cautious improvements in relations with China. Relations with South Korea have been strained due to pre-war controversies.
Abe has made little progress in resolving his long-standing feud with Russia over the disputed islands occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II. This line prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty ending the war.