Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is having sinus surgery at a Tokyo hospital to treat chronic sinusitis that has caused him to have a stuffy nose since last year.
Mr Kishida, wearing a suit and escorted by security guards and aides, was seen entering the hospital on Saturday morning.
He has had nasal congestion since last year and was diagnosed as having chronic sinusitis with polyps, he told reporters on Friday.
Mr Kishida has since been treated with medicine but decided to undergo surgery “in order to be in perfect health”, he said.
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.
Mr Kishida will have surgery under general anaesthesia and during that time Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno will temporarily assume a leadership role as stipulated under Japanese Cabinet Law.
The Prime Minister is expected to go home later on Saturday and return to work on Monday, though he will need to visit the hospital a few times for post-surgery check-ups and treatment, Mr Matsuno said.
Mr Kishida has suffered plunging public support over his handling of a religious controversy involving his governing party and over resignations of ministers and top aides following a political funding scandal, gaffes and discriminatory remarks against sexual minorities.
He 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 defence strategy to bolster Japan’s strike-back capability in a break with its post-war self-defence-only principle.
On Friday, Mr 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. – AP