Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in history, has resigned, citing 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, who has colitis, a non-curable inflammatory bowel disease, which was also a factor in his sudden resignation as prime minister in 2007, ending his first term after just over a year in office.

“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 against the disease and need to be treated,” he added.

With Abe’s announcement, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index closed down 1.4% Friday. It initially tumbled more than 2% before paring losses. The Japanese yen, a traditional safe currency haven, rose 0.3% against the US dollar.

Abe traveled to the Philippines several times. In July 2013 and January 2017, he met former President Benigno Aquino III and President Rodrigo Duterte, respectively. It was also during Abe’s tenure that the Philippines and Japan signed a joint declaration to bolster the two countries’ strategic partnership, including joint training exercises to ensure “maritime safety and security” in the contested West Philippine Sea.


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