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Japan's prime minister to resign, official says

Scandals, dissent have plagued Abe

Shinzo Abe is considered a key US ally in the war in Afghanistan. Shinzo Abe is considered a key US ally in the war in Afghanistan.

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose year-old government has suffered a string of damaging scandals and a humiliating electoral defeat, has told ruling party leaders he intends to resign, an official said today.

Tadamori Oshima, parliamentary affairs chief for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Abe would make the resignation announcement later in the day.

Abe, whose support rating has fallen to 30 percent, said he was stepping down because he lacked the power to rally people together, NHK quoted LDP Secretary-General Taro Aso as telling reporters.

NHK and Kyodo News agency reported that Abe would hold a news conference later in the day. Abe spokesman Hiroshi Suzuki, deputy Cabinet secretary, said he was aware of the reports but he could not immediately confirm them.

Abe's government lost control of the upper house of Parliament in July 29 elections. Abe, 52, was facing a legislative battle over his efforts to extend the country's refueling mission in support of the US-led operation in Afghanistan.

Reports he would step down come just days after Abe said he would quit if he failed to win parliamentary passage of legislation extending the Afghan mission, in which Japanese ships refuel coalition vessels in the Indian Ocean.

The plenary session of the lower house was to be delayed, media reports said, but an official of the lower house said she could not confirm that.

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