May 25, 2024  |  
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Mari Yamaguchi

NextImg:Japan’s PM Kishida says sinus surgery went smoothly

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had sinus surgery at a Tokyo hospital on Saturday to treat chronic sinusitis that has caused him to have a stuffy nose since last year.

“The surgery went smoothly and I have returned to my official residence,” Kishida said in his tweet Saturday night. “Thank you very much everyone for your concerns and encouragement.”

He also thanked his surgeon and other medical staff at the hospital.

“Difficult problems are mounting in and outside Japan right now. I will make sure to stay in great shape to tackle the problems,” he said, promising to be back to work on Monday.

Kishida has suffered plunging public support over his handling of a controversy involving his governing party’s ties with a religious group, resignations of ministers and top aides following a political funding scandal, gaffes and discriminatory remarks against sexual minorities.

His stuffy nose while speaking at meetings, parliamentary sessions and news conferences has been cited by local media, including some that speculated it was an aftereffect of COVID-19, which he contracted last summer.

He told reporters Friday that since he had been diagnosed having chronic sinusitis with polyps, he was treated with medicine but decided to undergo surgery “in order to be in perfect health.”

Kishida’s operation was said to have involved general anesthesia and during that time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno temporarily assumed a leadership role as stipulated by the Cabinet Law.

A footage by TBS television Saturday evening captured Kishida in his suit and wearing a white surgical mask bowing and thanking medial staff as he walked out the hospital.

Matsuno said Kishida was expected to return to work Monday, though he will need to visit the hospital a few more times for post-surgery checkups and treatment.

Kishida took office in October 2021 and has implemented drastic changes to Japan’s security and energy policies. In December, his government adopted a new security and defense strategy to bolster Japan’s strike-back capability in a break with its postwar self-defense-only principle.

On Friday, Kishida’s Cabinet approved a policy to maximize the use of nuclear power as green energy, reversing the country’s post-Fukushima nuclear phaseout plan.