Journalists await word on Obuchi’s condition

More than 100 journalists besieged Tokyo’s Juntendo Hospital on Monday following the announcement late Sunday night that Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi had been admitted after being taken ill.

Hospital staff started arriving at work at 6 a.m. and about 60 Metropolitan Police Department officers were deployed around the building. Later in the morning, it was announced that Obuchi had suffered a stroke.

A Lower House member from the Liberal Democratic Party visited the hospital, in Bunkyo Ward, shortly after midnight Sunday.

Obuchi is reportedly being treated on the top floor of the 14-story hospital complex.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, Democratic Party of Japan chief Yukio Hatoyama arrived at the hospital to visit Obuchi. Hatoyama was not able to see the prime minister due to his condition.

A 69-year-old bakery shop owner who lives near the hospital said she turned on the TV and learned about Obuchi’s hospitalization after seeing unusual activity in her neighborhood late Sunday night.

“I hope there is nothing seriously wrong with Mr. Obuchi,” she said.

Officials began arriving at around 8 a.m. at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence. Chief Cabinet Secretary Mikio Aoki entered the residence without comment.

Toshitaka Furukawa, one of Obuchi’s secretaries, was asked by reporters about the prime minister’s condition upon his arrival at the residence. His only response was to say, “He is taking a rest.”

Hokkaido Gov. Tatsuya Hori said in Sapporo that Obuchi had taken over command of relief measures following the eruption of Mount Usu, and this responsibility, on top of his normal duties, may have exacted a toll upon his health.