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2020年 10月 13日

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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Announced Intention to Resign

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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his plans on August 28, 2020 to resign in September 2020, citing health concerns after multiple visits to hospitals in the weeks prior.

The news signaled the end to the longest uninterrupted time of service by a prime minister in Japanese history. While Abe’s time in the position has been marked by controversies and criticisms, observers following the nation’s political scene largely think the time under Abe was a stable and peaceful period.

Abe has been spotted going to a hospital in the weeks leading up to his press conference announcing his resignation, though initially aides referred to these visits as nothing more than a regular health check up. A magazine, however, reported that he had vomited blood in his office in July.

Abe revealed that his ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the digestive system, had returned and made doing his job difficult. “While I get treated for my illness and my physical strength is not in top shape, there mustn’t be a situation where I make an error on important political decisions and fail to deliver results. I decided to step down as prime minister,” he said during his press conference.

The illness also ended Abe’s first term as prime minister, which lasted only from 2006 to 2007. He returned to the position in December 2012.

While he will step down from the position of prime minister, Abe rebuked rumors that he would retire from politics. Rather he will continue on as a lawmaker.

Abe’s resignation caught many off guard, including those within his own party, who were shocked to hear the news.

During his second term, Abe oversaw a prosperous and stable democracy in East Asia, helping to improve the nation’s economy in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, while also helping the country boost tourism numbers and land the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Critics, however, pointed to uneven success with his economic plan — dubbed Abenomics — while also leaving a complicated legacy in Eastern Asia, as relations between Japan and its neighbors ebbed and flowed during his term. He had also been criticized in recent months due to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

World leaders from all across the globe shared positive thoughts about Abe on social media. U.S. President Donald Trump, who had a close relationship with Abe, spoke about the resignation, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also spoke about him in glowing terms, among others.

Abe held on to the position until a new prime minister was elected in September. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga won the vote, and is the country’s newest prime minister.

(450 words)
Copyright © 2020 Bun-eido Publishing Co., Ltd. All rights reserved

Key Words and Expressions

  1. resign (verb) / resignation (noun) — to give up a job or position / the act of leaving your job or position
  2. prime minister — the head of the government in some countries
  3. political scene — political circumstances and trends
  4. aide — a person whose job is to assist someone important
  5. step down — to leave an important position or office
  6. lawmaker — a person who has a right to join and vote in a parliament
  7. prosperous — successfully developed or having good fortune
  8. boost — to encourage something to improve or increase
  9. handling — the way in which someone deals with a situation
  10. Chief Cabinet Secretary — secretary of the Cabinet Secretariat of Japan who oversees the affairs of the Cabinet Secretariat

Reading Comprehension Test

Questions

  1. Which of the following isn’t true of Shinzo Abe’s second term as prime minister?
    a. Abe helped boost tourism into Japan.
    b. Abe’s legacy in East Asia is one of creating a positive image with neighboring countries.
    c. Abe had the longest uninterrupted time of service by a prime minister in Japanese history.
    d. Abe introduced an economic plan called Abenomics.
  2. When did Shinzo Abe resign from the prime minister position?
    a. Immediately after announcing it at the press conference.
    b. One day after the press conference.
    c. After a new prime minister was elected.
    d. Immediately after visiting a hospital.
  3. What did other world leaders say about Shinzo Abe?
    a. They said that they were happy he was resigning.
    b. They said they wanted him to step down as soon as possible.
    c. They said positive things about his time as prime minister.
    d. They said he should consider coming back for a third term.
  4. Why did Shinzo Abe announce his intention to resign from the prime minister position?
  5. What was one positive thing Shinzo Abe accomplished during his second term?
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