TOKYO, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left a hospital in Tokyo on Monday evening after a seven-hour checkup amid concerns from inside his own camp over his physical condition.
The Japanese leader checked into the Keio University Hospital for what one of his aide's described as a "health checkup" although rumors have been swirling about his deteriorating health, amplified by both his colleagues and members of his inner circle offering mixed views as to Abe's condition.
The prime minister's visit to Keio University Hospital came a day after former economy minister Akira Amari told a TV program that the prime minister needs to rest, intimating he may be suffering from exhaustion.
"Abe feels guilty about the idea of taking a break. We need to force him to get rest, even just for a few days," Amari said.
Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso also weighed in on the premier's busy schedule possibly taking its toll on his health, stating that Abe had "worked for 147 consecutive days through June 20, so it is not surprising for someone not taking a rest for that long to be in rough shape."
Abe, 65, during his first tenure as prime minister, which started in late September 2006, abruptly stepped down from his post in 2007 due to chronic ulcerative colitis, an intestinal disease.
Some local media have recently run reports about Abe's possible deteriorating health condition.
Earlier this month however, Japan's top government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga downplayed any potential health issues Abe may be going through, stating, "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."
Abe's possible health issues have triggered both empathy as well as concern from opposition parties.
"If he is not well, I hope he will get rest and recover as soon as possible," Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, said.
But some other lawmakers have said that if the prime minister is indeed not in good health, he should be replaced as the country's leader to avoid a political vacuum as the nation continues to grapple with tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
Abe last received a checkup at the same hospital in Tokyo about two months ago and has been receiving regular checkups every six months, a government official said.
The latest checkup lasted about seven and a half hours, during which "he had various parts of his body checked just to be sure, as he had a whole weekday available for the checkup," the government official said.