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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers journalists'n questions at his official residence after returning from a hospital for a checkup, in Tokyo Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.  (AP)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers journalists'n questions at his official residence after returning from a hospital for a checkup, in Tokyo Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. (AP)

Japan’s Abe returns to work after unexpected hospital visit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to his official residence to resume work, making his first public appearance since an unexpected visit to a Tokyo hospital this week

TOKYO : Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to his official residence to resume work on Wednesday, making his first public appearance since an unexpected visit to a Tokyo hospital this week.

Abe spoke briefly to reporters in the foyer of the residence in response to questions about his health.

“I underwent tests to make sure I’m doing everything possible to maintain my physical condition," Abe said, in remarks live streamed by broadcaster FNN. “Now I want to return to work and do my best."

He spent the day at Keio University Hospital on Monday for what local media said was a checkup.

The government has not given information about the nature of the tests he underwent. The 65-year-old previously resigned in 2007, citing a flare-up of his chronic ulcerative colitis, which many doctors say is exacerbated by stress.

Speculation over Abe’s health had been simmering because he had avoided extended public appearances since mid-June, even as the virus outbreak worsened.

Two cabinet ministers have denied there’s any problem with his health, while his close associate and ruling party lawmaker Akira Amari has publicly urged him to take time off. Abe’s usual summer trip to a second home outside Tokyo may have been canceled amid fears about spreading the coronavirus.

Concerns that his physical health may be worsening come as the virus spreads throughout the country, slamming the economy his government had previously touted as a success. Polls show the public is unimpressed with his management of the crisis, but Abe has rebuffed opposition calls for a new session of parliament to debate virus policy.

Jun Azumi, a lawmaker with the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, said the premier should explain his physical condition.

“Is it interfering with his ability to carry out his public duties?" Azumi asked, in remarks broadcast by NHK. “Can he not stand up to questioning in parliament? It would be good for him to explain in his own words."

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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