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Japan PM Abe to consult with doctors before Friday news conference: sources

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will consult with doctors before holding a news conference on Friday, three sources familiar with the situation told Reuters, amid worries about his health after two recent hospital examinations.

Abe plans to hold the news conference on Friday afternoon, the sources said on Wednesday. He is expected to provide an explanation about his health and talk about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, local media reported.

The consultations with the doctors on Friday could involve another visit to the hospital or may be carried out by phone, the sources said. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Abe has been to hospital twice in the last two weeks, including one visit of 7-1/2 hours. He has not detailed what the visits were for, instead saying he wanted to take care of his health and do his utmost at his job.

Abe’s close ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ally, Akira Amari, sought to dispel qualms over Abe’s health on Tuesday, telling Reuters he looked better than in mid-August and would likely fulfil his tenure until September next year.

His remarks were echoed on Wednesday by the Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who said Abe looked a “bit tired” over the last two weeks but seemed “very well” on Tuesday and “gave us various instructions in the usual manner.”

“We want him to continue to look after his health and show us his leadership,” Kyodo news quoted Nishimura as saying during a parliamentary committee meeting.

Abe, the country’s longest serving prime minister, has been in the role since 2012. He resigned abruptly from an earlier term in 2007 because of struggles with ulcerative colitis, a disease he has kept in check with medicine that was not previously available.

Criticised for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and some scandals, Abe has suffered a slide in voter support to one of the lowest levels since returning to office with promises to revive the economy and bolster defence.

Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto and Izumi Nakagawa; Editing by Richard Pullin and Kim Coghill

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