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Japanese PM Shinzo Abe announces plan to step down

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has planned to step down "because of health issues", state media reported today.

According to a report in NHK, Japan's national broadcaster, Abe is scheduled to hold a news conference later in the day to provide further details of his decision.

The development comes after Abe's visit to a Tokyo hospital twice over the past two weeks, fuelling speculation that his health has deteriorated.

This is the second time that the Prime Minister will step down from his post over a medical issue.

He resigned in 2007 because of inflammatory bowel disease, after only serving a year in office.

He returned to the top job in 2012 after a landslide election win in the Lower House..