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Shinzo Abe thanks public, says he'll support Yoshihide Suga as Japan's new PM

Shinzo Abe is pictured on his last day as Prime Minister, at the prime minister's office on Sept. 16, 2020. (Mainichi/Kota Yoshida)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe thanked the public ahead of his departure from office on Sept. 16, and said that he wanted to support the administration of the nation's next prime minister, Yoshihide Suga.

    As of Sept. 16, Abe spent a total of 3,188 days in office across his first stint as prime minister between 2006 and 2007, and his second term that began in December 2012 and went on for 2,822 days -- both records. However, he ended both tenures by stepping down before his terms expired.

    "Since we won back the administration (in 2012), I have put my full effort each day into economic recovery and diplomacy to protect Japan's interests," Abe said. "It has been an honor to have been able to face challenges from various issues together with the public during this time... I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart."

    Regarding his health -- the reason he gave for stepping down -- Abe said, "The medicine is working and I'm making a steady recovery. I want to support the Suga administration as a member of the Diet."

    In September 2006, a 52-year-old Abe took over from Junichiro Koizumi, and became the first prime minister in Japan born after World War II. However, his party suffered a crushing defeat in the House of Councillors election in 2007, and his ulcerative colitis worsened. He stepped down in September of the same year.

    After returning to office in December 2012, Abe presented his "Abenomics" policies and set about trying to achieve economic recovery for Japan. His administration subsequently passed the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets and security-related legislation allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense in a limited manner. His government also raised the consumption tax rate from 5% to 8% in April 2014, and then to 10% in October 2019.

    Abe became Japan's longest serving prime minister by total number of days in November 2019, surpassing the length in office of former Prime Minister Taro Katsura (1848-1913). He also became the longest-serving prime minister by consecutive number of days on Aug. 24 this year, eclipsing the term of Eisaku Sato, his great-uncle. However, in a news conference just four days later, he disclosed that his ulcerative colitis had worsened, and announced that he intended to resign as prime minister, saying he was not in a condition to respond to the public mandate with confidence.

    (Japanese original by Aoi Hanazawa, Political News Department)

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