Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to resign due to health reasons, local media report. The PM has had to make do with ulcerative colitis disease for many years now but the condition is thought to be getting worse. Earlier in the week, the 65 year old became the longest serving Prime Minister, after taking office in 2012. In 2007, he resigned abruptly from his term as PM due to struggles with the condition he has lived with since he was a teenager.

Concerns were raised when he had two hospital visits in a spun of one week. Even though he did not reveal reasons for the visits, one is reported to have lasted close to eight hours. He had been due to serve until September 2021. However, officials from his governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have in the past dismissed speculation that he would eventually step down.

Akira Amari, head of the LDP’s tax panel dismissed the suggestion that the PM was planning to dissolve parliament’s lower house for a snap general election soon. “There won’t be  a snap election for the time being,’ he said. Nevertheless, rumors have persisted regarding Mr. Abe’s growing fatigue and also face scrutiny for the way he handled the coronavirus pandemic.

In case Mr. Abe fails to perform his role, then an acting prime minister would step in temporarily. However, there is no limit on how long they can stay in post. Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister is first in line, followed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. A resignation would trigger a vote within Mr. Abe’s, LDP to replace him as president.  This will then be followed by a parliamentary vote to elect a new prime minister who’s going to hold the post until the end of Mr. Abe’s term in September 2021.