Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has announced his resignation for health reasons. Announcing his plans to resign the Prime Minister said he did not want his illness to get in the way of decision making, and apologised to the Japanese people for failing to complete his term in office. The 65-year-old has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, but he said his condition had worsened recently. Last year, he became Japan’s longest serving prime minister. His current period in office began in 2012. He will remain in his post until a successor is chosen. In 2007 he resigned abruptly from an earlier term as prime minister because of his struggles with ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition that he has lived with since he was a teenager.
Mr Abe has a reputation as a staunch conservative and nationalist, and for stimulating growth with his aggressive economic policy known as “Abenomics”. He has strengthened Japan’s defences and boosted military spending, but has been unable to revise the constitution’s pacifist Article 9, which bans a standing army for anything other than self-defence.
He said that it wasn’t his place to weigh in who should replace him, or when. But the Liberal Democratic Party which has almost continuously been in power since 1955 has many different factions so the race is on between them to get the top job. Those close to Mr Abe, like Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga or Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, are anticipated to emerge as his successor, but they are not the most popular among voters as his administration has faced criticism for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida, who is rumoured to be Mr Abe’s choice may be a contender as potential successor.
Abenomics refers to the economic policies advocated by Shinzō Abe since the December 2012 general election, when Abe was elected to his second term as Prime Minister of Japan. Abenomics is based upon “three arrows” of monetary easing from the Bank of Japan, fiscal stimulus through government spending, and structural reforms. The Economist characterized the program as a “mix of reflation, government spending and a growth strategy designed to jolt the economy out of suspended animation that has gripped it for more than two decades”. Abenomics is not from any theoretical contribution but a political neologism like previous neologisms for economic policies associated with various leaders such as Clintonomics, Obamanomics, Orbanomics, Reaganomics, Rogernomics and Trumponomics.
Japan is the third-largest in the world by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). and is the world’s second largest developed economy.According to the International Monetary Fund, the country’s per capita GDP (PPP) was at $38,937 (2016). In 2018, Japan was the world’s fourth-largest importer and the fourth-largest exporter. It has the world’s second-largest foreign-exchange reserves worth $1.3 trillion. It ranks 29th on Ease of doing business index and 5th on Global Competitiveness Report.Due to a volatile currency exchange rate, Japan’s GDP as measured in dollars fluctuates sharply. Japan’s asset price bubble collapse in 1991 led to a period of economic stagnation known as the “lost decade”, sometimes now extended as the “lost 20 years.” From 1995 to 2007, GDP fell from $5.33 trillion to $4.36 trillion in nominal terms. Japan today has the highest ratio of public debt to GDP of any developed nation, with national debt at 236% relative to GDP as of 2017. This debt is predominantly owned by Japanese nationals. The Japanese economy faces considerable challenges posed by an ageing and declining population, which peaked at 128 million in 2010 and has fallen to 126.5 million as of 2018. Projections suggest the population will continue to fall to potentially lower than 100 million by the middle of the 21st century.