Japan PM’s hospital trip sparks health speculation

By AFP Source: Reuters Published: 2020/8/17 16:43:40

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo: Xinhua

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose first term in office ended in part for health reasons, sparked fresh speculation Monday about his well-being with an unexpected, hours-long hospital visit.

Abe emerged from the Tokyo hospital where he was previously treated for ulcerative colitis more than seven hours after he entered, and left by car without saying anything, according to TV footage of local media.

His previously unannounced arrival on Monday morning prompted a local media frenzy and comes after weeks of speculation about his health.

A weekly magazine report in July claimed Abe had been vomiting blood, but government spokesman Yoshihide Suga insisted the prime minister was healthy.

More recently, questions have been raised about the prime minister's decision to avoid holding any press conferences, despite rising criticism over the government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak domestically, where the COVID-19 infections are increasing.

Analysts have suggested the prime minister has struggled to answer questions in public appearances, and one television even analyzed the speed with which Abe walked a route in the prime minister's office, concluding he was moving slower of late.

Local media said Monday that Abe completed his regular annual health check-up in June but cited an aide as saying he was now undergoing an additional "one-day regular health check-up."



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