Japan PM Abe reassures on health after second hospital visit

Country’s longest-serving prime minister says wants to do his best amid concern coronavirus crisis aggravating health.

Abe, already the country's longest-serving prime minister, was set to surpass a half-century-old record set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato for the longest consecutive tenure as premier on Monday [Dai Kurokawa/EPA]
Abe, already the country's longest-serving prime minister, was set to surpass a half-century-old record set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato for the longest consecutive tenure as premier on Monday [Dai Kurokawa/EPA]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease, returned from a check-up at a Tokyo hospital on Monday to reassure the media over the state of health and insist he wanted to do the best job possible.

There has been rising concern about the state of his health amid the coronavirus crisis, after he underwent a more than seven and a half hour medical examination last week.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters at a regular briefing Abe was receiving “additional testing” after that check-up.

“I see him every day and I don’t see any change in him,” Suga said.

Abe, already the country’s longest-serving prime minister, on Monday broke a half-century-old record set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato for the longest consecutive tenure as prime minister.

He returned to his official residence to tell reporters that he wanted to do everything he could to maintain and his health and do his utmost at his job.

Abe has been in office since 2012 in his second stint as prime minister.

He resigned from his first term just a year into the job in 2007 because of his struggles with ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition, which he now keeps under control with medication that was not previously available. 

Diet and stress are thought to aggravate the condition.

Speculation about Abe’s health comes as he faces renewed pressure over his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and declining public support. A poll published on Sunday by the Kyodo news agency found the approval rating for his cabinet at just 36 percent, the second lowest level since his second term began in 2012. 

The prime minister’s office did not give a detailed explanation of his hospital visit last week, but Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, a close aide, said it was a regular check-up and he was “not at all” worried about Abe’s health.

Abe gets a regular check-up twice a year, with his most recent on June 13, the Kyodo news agency said, adding that last week’s visit was a follow-up to the June check-up, citing a hospital source.

Akira Amari, another Abe confidante and chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s tax panel, said that Abe, 65, could be suffering from fatigue because of his continuous work over the response to the virus.

Source : Reuters

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