Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to resign due to ill health, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reported on Friday.
“Sources close to the Japanese Prime Minister say he plans to step down to deal with a health problem,” NHK wrote.
Abe, 65, will hold a press conference later on Friday to explain his decision.
Speculation over the prime minister’s health has run rampant for the past two weeks because of repeated hospital stays.
“[H]e underwent an examination at Tokyo’s Keio University Hospital on August 14 and then returned for a followup exam on Monday [August 24],” the Japan Times reports.
In 2007, Abe was forced to step down as prime minister after serving only one year due to complications from inflammatory bowel disease. Abe returned to the post in 2012; he has served as prime minister for nearly eight years since then, making him Japan’s longest-serving leader.
Abe’s term as president of Japan’s main ruling Liberal Democratic Party “would have run out in September next year,” according to NHK.