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Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, hospitalized amid health concerns

Concerns are mounting over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's health after the country's leader returned to a Tokyo hospital Monday for the second time in a week.
Abe, 65, on Monday morning visited Keio University Hospital in Tokyo, where he spent three hours with doctors. Last Monday, the prime minister was at the medical facility for over seven hours.

The Japanese leader tried to quell any concerns about his health after news of his second hospital visit hit airwaves, telling reporters outside his official residence that he had gone back to the doctor to learn test results from the week prior.

He added that he had some follow-up tests done, saying he hoped to talk about “that kind of thing” at some point in the future, without specifying when.

He added, “I’d like to take care of my health and do my best at my job.”

Nippon TV, a Japanese news broadcaster, reported Monday that despite Abe’s claim that he had been in the hospital for examinations, he was actually being treated for ulcerative colitis.

Abe has publicly acknowledged having the chronic illness, even resigning from his first term in 2007 when it had worsened to a point that he could no longer govern. He re-entered the political arena in 2012.

Still, his aides have denied recent reports that staff has grown concerned that the job had become too stressful for Abe in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent weeks, Abe has avoided extended public appearances, and has not held a full-length news conference since mid-June.

He has also rejected calls from the opposition to start a new session of parliament to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Even his Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso began to acknowledge this month that the Japanese leader was in “rough shape.”

Still, Aso came to Abe’s defense, arguing that it was his workload causing the health concerns.

“It is not surprising for [someone] not taking a rest for that long to be in rough shape,” he said.

Earlier this month, Akira Amari, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party’s tax panel, warned that Abe “has a strong sense of responsibility and feels it’s wrong to take a break. We need to force him to get rest, even just for a few days.”

Still, Abe’s cabinet has stood firm that there is no cause for concern over his health, with Health Minister Katsunobu Kato saying he was “not at all” concerned about his health.

The renewed concerns about Abe’s health come the same day he broke the record, previously set by his great-uncle, Eisaku Sato, for the most consecutive days as prime minister.
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