Japan PM leaves hospital after check-up amid health concerns

Tokyo, Japan Updated: Aug 17, 2020, 04:08 PM(IST)

Shinzo Abe Photograph:( Reuters )

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Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, left hospital after the examination

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe underwent a medical check-up in hospital on Monday, a government source said, amid concern voiced by a top official that the premier was suffering from fatigue from handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, left hospital after the examination, Jiji news agency said.

He had the check-up at Tokyo's Keio University Hospital, the source familiar with the situation told Reuters. 

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, a close aide to the premier, said he understood it was a regular check-up and he was "not at all" worried about Abe's health.

Also read: Japan's PM Shinzo Abe goes for check-up after coronavirus work piles on

"All I know is from media reports. And I understand it was reported as a regular check-up," Kato told reporters.

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

Abe's office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The news follows weekend comments by Akira Amari, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's tax panel, that Abe, 65, could be suffering from fatigue because of his continuous work over the response to the virus.

Also read: 'Comfort woman' row: Japan warns South Korea against Abe's statue

"I want him to take a break," Amari told a Fuji TV news programme on Sunday. "He has a strong sense of responsibility and feels it's wrong to take a break."

Abe, in office since 2012 in his second stint as prime minister, resigned from his first term in 2007 because of struggles with ulcerative colitis, which he now keeps under control with medication that was not previously available.

Japanese media have speculated about Abe's health this month, including detailed reports on Abe's walking speed. Weekly magazine Flash said Abe had vomited blood at his office on July 6. Reuters was unable to verify the report.

"I see the prime minister every day, and I think he has no (health) problems at all, as he has been carrying out his duties smoothly," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told an Aug. 5 news conference in response to questions following the report.

Abe has discharged regular duties in recent weeks and was last seen in public on Saturday, at a Tokyo ceremony commemorating Japan's World War Two defeat.

While there are no reports that he is unable to perform his duties, should that be the case, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, would take over.

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