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International relations

Duterte ends Japan trip early over 'unbearable' back pain

Motorcycle injury forces Philippine president to skip banquet for emperor

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives for the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Oct. 22.   © Reuters

MANILA -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte left Japan ahead of schedule on Tuesday because of severe pain in his hip from a motorcycle accident last week.

Duterte was seen grimacing and using a cane at Tuesday's ceremony in which Japan's Emperor Naruhito formally proclaimed his accession to the throne.

He decided to return home because of "unbearable pain," and he will have a consultation with his neurologist on Wednesday, according to presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.

Duterte was riding a motorcycle on the grounds of the presidential guard Oct. 16 when he lost his balance and fell. Panelo said then that Duterte suffered only "light bruises and slight scratches" on his elbow and knee.

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, who accompanied her father on the trip to Japan, attended the banquet Tuesday evening on the president's behalf.

"While this was unforeseeable, the public can rest assured that there is nothing to worry as regards the physical health and condition of the president," Panelo said in a statement.

The 74-year-old president has faced concerns over his health.

Duterte said earlier this month that he has myasthenia gravis, a chronic neuromuscular disorder. The condition causes muscles to weaken, with drooping eyelids as a symptom.

He made the revelation during a speech to a Filipino organization in Moscow, explaining why one of his eyes appears smaller than the other and moves on its own.

Duterte skipped a cabinet meeting in October 2018 to have his eyes examined. Although the test turned out negative, he said he would tell the public if he were diagnosed with cancer.

He has also said that he has Barrett's esophagus -- associated with heartburn -- as well as migraines and excessive perspiration.

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