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International relations

Japan floods prompt Abe to cancel trip to Europe and Middle East

Signing of EU free trade deal postponed

Prime Minister Shizo Abe arrives at the prime minister's office on Monday morning.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday canceled a planned trip to Europe and the Middle East to oversee the government response to the devastation caused by torrential rain in western Japan over recent days.

Abe is expected to visit the regions hit hard by the massive flooding and landslides that began last Thursday across a wide area of western Japan, government officials said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference Abe will see to it that the government is providing all "possible measures, including rescuing people and reconstruction support."

Suga said the government will decide on when and where Abe will travel to after receiving a report from disaster management minister Hachiro Okonogi, who has gone to Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures, two areas which have suffered the most from flooding and deadly landslides.

Abe was scheduled to leave Japan on Wednesday for Brussels on the first leg of his trip and sign a free trade deal with the European Union.

Regarding the signing of the pact, Suga said the government will reschedule it at the earliest possible time.

After Belgium, Abe was also expected to visit France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt before returning on July 18.

 

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