Mr Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, announced last month he was stepping down because of health problems.
“I devoted my body and soul for the economic recovery and diplomacy to protect Japan’s national interest every single day since we returned to power,” Mr Abe told reporters at the prime minister’s office before heading into his final Cabinet meeting.
He said his health was improving, thanked the public for their support, and asked them to support his successor.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, long seen as Mr Abe’s right-hand man, was chosen on Monday as the new head of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, virtually guaranteeing his election as prime minister in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday because of the party’s majority.
Mr Suga, a self-made politician and the son of a strawberry grower in the northern prefecture of Akita, has stressed his background in promising to serve the interests of ordinary people and rural communities.