Thursday, September 13, 2007

Abe in Hospital in Japan After Announcing Resignation

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced his resignation yesterday, is in a Tokyo hospital with a stomach ailment, doctors said.

Abe, 52, said he will step down after failing to regain public support following the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's defeat in the Upper House election in July. A ballot for Abe's successor will be held on Sept. 23.

Abe needs to be hospitalized for as long as four days because of problems with his digestive system, Toshifumi Hibi, one of Abe's doctors and a professor at Keio University Hospital in Shinjuku ward in central Tokyo, said at a news conference.

Abe's popularity plunged after a series of scandals since he replaced the popular Junichiro Koizumi a year ago. Poll ratings for Abe's government dropped below 30 percent after it admitted millions of dollars in pension-fund money couldn't be unaccounted for. Cabinet ministers became embroiled in a succession of scandals: four resigned, and one committed suicide.

Health was one of the factors behind his resignation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano said earlier at a regular press conference.

No-one has been named to stand in for Abe, Yosano said at a later press conference.

Doctors' Advice

Yosano is first in line to become acting prime minister, should Abe be incapacitated before a new leader is chosen, followed by Defense Minister Masahiko Komura and Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, according to Hiroshi Suzuki, a spokesman for the Cabinet office.

The prime minister's doctors advised Abe to go to hospital because he was suffering from exhaustion and had lost nearly 5 kilograms (11 pounds) the past several months. During his stay, Abe will be given drugs to get his digestive system functioning normally, the doctor said.

``His whole body is debilitated,'' Hibi said. ``He had acute inflammation of the stomach a few weeks back, which seems to be worsening the symptoms.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Kanoko Matsuyama in Tokyo at at .

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