Japan’s leader says hospital trip was just for a checkup

Tokyo:  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe brushed off lingering worries about his health Wednesday, saying he went to the hospital for a checkup.

I got a checkup a day before yesterday to make sure I’m healthy, he told reporters. I’m getting back to work now, and I hope to keep working hard. Thank you. He walked off, without responding to reporters’ follow-up questions about the checkup.

Abe was seen Monday sitting in a car that drove into Keio University Hospital in Tokyo, then emerging several hours later. At that time, neither he nor his office made comments.

The visit raised a flurry of speculation in Japanese media about his health, coming after a top ruling party politician said publicly that Abe was overworked and needed rest.

Abe, 65, stepped down in 2007, during his earlier stint as prime minister, citing health problems, but was elected for the second time as a leader in 2012.

He is the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history. Japan is a nation known for having leaders serving relatively short periods, often resigning amid scandal.