BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – The leaders of the European Union, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, on Friday thanked outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for contributing to building stronger relations between Japan and the EU.
“I would like to thank PM [Shinzo Abe] for the close and strong partnership the #EU & #Japan have built under his leadership. You have helped make Japan a pillar of today’s multilateral system. I wish you good health and hope to meet you again soon, my friend,” President of the European Council Michel tweeted.
His sentiment was echoed by President of the European Commission von der Leyen.
“Thank you [Shinzo Abe] or your dedication & contribution to enhancing EU-Japan relations. Under your leadership, our partnership has never been stronger or more crucial,” she wrote on Twitter.
The retiring prime minister is leaving office due to ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease that already caused him to abandon the premiership in 2007. Despite those circumstances, he once again assumed the prime minister’s chair in 2012 and went on to become the longest-serving Japanese head of government.
During his time in office, Abe has been trying to foster good relations with the EU, most notably by negotiating the Economic Partnership Agreement and the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two sides.
Earlier in the day, Abe officially announced his decision to resign for health reasons. He has already informed the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, of which he is the leader, and Natsuo Yamaguchi, the leader of the Komeito party, a part of the ruling coalition.