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Japan after Abe

Abe visits hospital for 1st time since resignation announcement

Japan's outgoing prime minister receives treatment for ulcerative colitis

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, enters a hospital in Tokyo on Sept. 12.    © Kyodo

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a Tokyo hospital Saturday, the first time he has returned since his surprise announcement last month that he will step down due to his battle with a chronic disease.

According to the prime minister's office, Abe spent about four hours at Keio University Hospital receiving treatment for ulcerative colitis, the intestinal disease he suffers from. It was his third visit to the hospital in recent weeks.

He gave as a reason for his resignation in an Aug. 28 press conference the need to undergo treatment of the condition with a new drug.

Abe visited the hospital on Aug. 17 and 24 as he was experiencing a flare-up of the disease that also caused his abrupt resignation as prime minister in 2007 after just one year in the job.

On returning power in 2012, he said he had overcome the illness with the help of a new drug.

Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party is set to elect on Monday his successor as party leader, who will then be installed as Japan's prime minister in a parliamentary session two days later.

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