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Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe enters hospital for check-up: report

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe entered a hospital on Monday for a medical check-up, a government source said, after a top official voiced concern the premier was suffering from fatigue because of his workload during the coronavirus pandemic.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, plans to return home later on Monday after the examination at Tokyo’s Keio University Hospital, the source familiar with the situation told Reuters News Agency.

The reason for the check-up was not immediately clear.

News of Abe’s health comes as the country reported its sharpest economic decline due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kyodo News said it was a regular check-up, citing people near to the prime minister, while Nippon TV quoted government sources as saying it was not a worrying situation.

Abe gets a regular check-up twice a year, with his most recent on June 13, said Kyodo, 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.

“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 stint 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 August 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 II 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.–Reuters

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