TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to hold a news conference on Friday at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT), his office said, amid growing concerns over his health, following two hospital examinations within a week.
Ruling party officials have said Abe’s health is fine, but the visits, one of which ran nearly eight hours, have fanned speculation whether he will be able to continue in the job until the end of his term in September 2021.
On Monday Abe surpassed a record for longest consecutive tenure as premier that had been set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato half a century ago.
Sources have told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Abe would consult doctors prior to Friday’s event, whether by telephone or another hospital visit.
He is expected to offer an explanation of his health and discuss the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic media have said.
Abe’s Friday schedule provided by the prime minister’s office shows he is to attend a meeting of the government’s coronavirus response headquarters before the news conference.
Abe, who has battled the chronic condition ulcerative colitis since his teens, has not detailed the reason for his hospital visits, but said he wanted to take care of his health and do his utmost at his job.
(Reporting by Ju-min Park and Daniel Leussink; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Clarence Fernandez)