Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he plans to resign because of declining health.

Speaking to reporters Friday in Tokyo, Abe said he has decided to step down from the post since he is suffering from a recurrence of ulcerative colitis that ended his first term in office in 2007.

Abe, whose term would have ended in September 2021, is expected to stay on until a new party leader, who will serve as prime minister, is elected and approved by the parliament.

Speculation about Abe’s resignation emerged earlier this year after visits to a Tokyo hospital for health checkups. No details were made public at the time.

The 65-year-old Abe had acknowledged suffering ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager, and said he was undergoing treatment for the condition.

On Monday, Abe became Japan’s longest-serving prime minister by breaking the record of his great-uncle, Eisaku Sato, who served 2,798 days from 1964-72.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index closed down 1.5% on Friday after reports of Abe’s intentions. 

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