Is Abe headed for his next health crisis?

TOKYO —

A Japanese aphorism used to describe being between a rock and a hard place goes: “Zenmon no tora, komon no ookami” (literally, a tiger at the front gate and a wolf at the back gate).

In the case of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s current situation, Shukan Post (Jan 31) used this as a headline, with the expression modified to read “Zenmon no Koizumi, komon no jibyo” (Koizumi at the front gate and chronic illness at the back gate).

Koizumi of course is former PM Junichiro Koizumi, who has come out of retirement to mount a challenge to Abe’s pro-nuclear energy policies.

The emergence of a political rival from within his own party may or may not have an impact on the prime minister’s health, which in any case is subjected to considerable scrutiny in the article. It was indeed a “back gate” problem—- Shukan Post’s pun is too clever to be coincidental—that was believed a major factor in Abe’s leaving his first term after just 12 months in 2006-2007. The illness at that time was chronic ulcerative colitis—a type of inflammatory bowel disease.

The February 2008 issue of the prestigious monthly magazine Bungei Shunju revealed Abe’s woes in startling detail.

“He would rush to the toilet in pain, leaving the commode stained red from copious amounts of rectal bleeding,” the article read. “When his intestinal wall became inflamed, he felt the urge to evacuate every half hour or so. At night he made frequent trips between his bed and the toilet, preventing him from getting a good night’s sleep.”

When Abe began to float his candidacy in 2012, he emphasized he’d made a “dramatic recovery” thanks to an anti-inflammatory medication called Asacol (aka Mesalazine).

Rumors have begun surfacing that the frequency of his toilet visits have increased, raising speculation that his physical condition has suffered a relapse—a possible sign that Abe’s condition may once again be deteriorating due to the heavy physical and mental demands of the job.

Tracking the prime minister’s schedule of appointments and activities one day last November, the magazine noticed that a total of 65 minutes could not be accounted for.

“After leaving the Yomiuri Shimbun offices, Abe did not return directly to his office but made a top secret visit to a hospital for an examination,” one source speculated.

Stress is one of the most aggravating factors of such a condition. And while Asacol is revolutionary in its ability to alleviate the symptoms, it unfortunately does not offer a complete cure for colitis.

A source who is close to Abe is quoted as saying, “At night, the prime minister likes to nibble on sweets while reading. But he’s been cautioned by his physician that this is bad for his health, and now he has taken to eating ‘sanji no oyatsu’ (a 3 p.m. tea-time snack) of cakes or fruits.”

The craving for sweets or enhanced appetite may be a side effect of the steroids being used to reduce the inflammation.

In addition to the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election, voters in Abe’s home constituency of Yamaguchi Prefecture are said to have become restive following the prolonged illness of its previous governor and Abe ally Shigetaro Yamamoto.

It’s all speculation at this point, but a series of grass root defeats in local elections, and rebellion in the ranks by the Koizumi-led anti-nuclear faction in Abe’s own LDP, might just be stressful enough to cause Abe to suffer a serious relapse.

The past is prologue. And it was, after all, a major defeat in the House of Councillors elections seven years ago that led to Abe’s resignation—and that, notes Shukan Post, was also a period that coincided with his nonstop diarrhea.

  • 5

    MarkX

    Not wishing ill health on anybody, that said, if it can rid us of this right wing nut job, then all the better. But, as is always with the LDP we will be in for another round of the "Biggest loser" to see who will replace Abe!

  • 3

    BertieWooster

    At last!

    Let's get this idiot out of office before he creates any more damage.

    He's done ENOUGH!

    My hope for the guy is that he recovers and lives out his days in a retirement home where the only people he can annoy are the nurses and other inmates.

  • 16

    lucabrasi

    Horrible disease which I wouldn't wish on anyone, but it's also one of the few illnesses for which marijuana is regularly prescribed. Maybe Abe should try a couple of tokes and relax a bit more.... Could do wonders for international relations.

  • 11

    Reckless

    At least he is rich enough to quit his job anytime the rectum acts up. In my case whether or not I crap blood I have to keep slaving away.

  • 8

    Scrote

    Perhaps the spirits of the war criminals occupied Abe's rectum during his visit to Yasukuni?

    In any case, the sooner the dangerous nutcase Abe gives up his seat in the Diet for a seat on the toilet the better off Japan will be.

  • 5

    Jimizo

    Hope he gets better but at least he's blowing some of his crap out of the correct orifice.

  • 5

    AlexNoaburg

    great, he's gonna lead Japan to war and then resign. What kind of leader would risk his people's lives and run away when it's his own?

  • 13

    warispeace

    The comedian George Carlin once joked, “If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea…does that mean that 1 enjoys it?”

    I can guess that more than 1 out of 5 would take pleasure if PM Abe had to trade his seat in parliament for a white throne.

  • 5

    555Book

    I notice that bi-partisan politics around the world often conjure up situation where parties from both sides often need to go one up on each other. After awhile, the party which remained standing often found itself like the cat which got chased up a tree and while up there, the cat doesn't know how to get down. At the end, someone may need to bring a ladder.

  • 5

    Tessa

    Colitis, sounds ghastly. I knew a young Japanese woman who suffered from it, and it took a very long time for her to get her diagnosis (at first the doctors accused her of having an eating disorder, and then hinted that her parents were physically abusing her). Wouldn't wish it on anyone, not even a politician.

  • 4

    smithinjapan

    Feel sorry for the guy for the illness, but seriously, people... Why hire a guy who quit once due to sickness and with serious chance of relapse? It's irresponsible to say the least.

  • 4

    kurisupisu

    He'll soon be paying more for his mess, out of our taxes-nice one Abe!

  • 3

    lucabrasi

    @Tessa

    Yep. It really is horrible. My mother's had it for years, and the list of things she can't eat is very,very long. She basically lives on white bread and apples.I really don't like Abe, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

  • 5

    kimuzukashiiiii

    It is a horrible disease indeed, and I Feel sorry for him that stories of his rectal bleeding are toilet trips are splashed all over the front pages. Some things should be left private.

    Hope he can feel a bit better soon.

  • 2

    maitai62

    Yep. Terrible disease I wouldn't wish on anyone. Ulcerative colitis sufferers are also at higher risk of colon cancer.

  • -1

    randomman

    Very common negative gaijin judgement here based on pure subjective culturally biased arguments . Yobo says that Abe is a loser because he lost it previously and should be condemned for life, disparaging all Japanese for supporting him. On the other hand, Japanese Mrs Watanabe believes that Abe lost face last time so this time round he would try his utmost to regain his composure and ensure a proper attempt to rebuild the country.

    He has one thing in common with everyone in history who attempts to make a change (refer Maggie Thatcher as an example), massive criticism.

  • -1

    Whitney J Broussard II

    I for one admire his nationist leanings to counter Chinas growing threat. JAPANs military must increase rapidly to prepare to defend its nation.

  • 0

    Daniel Oliver Jost

    You may think I'm crazy, but I believe phasing out the cruel drive hunts in Taiji and providing the hunters with an economic alternative would...have a positive effect on PM Abe's health - what comes around goes around...

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