The widow of late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said her husband was able to express himself just after he was admitted to a Tokyo hospital in April, according to the latest edition of the monthly magazine Bungei Shunju, due out today.
“My husband often uttered, ‘I want to get up,’ ” Chizuko Obuchi wrote in the magazine, giving details of her husband’s physical condition on the evening of April 2.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Mikio Aoki claimed on April 3 that on the evening of April 2, Obuchi had asked him to serve as acting prime minister.
At a news conference given shortly after Obuchi died at age 62 on May 14, doctors who left the prime minister and the top government spokesman alone in a room in Juntendo University Hospital questioned whether Obuchi could express himself as Aoki claimed.
“(My husband) tried to sit up in bed even though doctors told him to remain lying down. I held him down with all my might, saying, ‘My dear, stay in bed, please lie down for a while,’ ” Chizuko wrote.
Aoki told a press conference April 3: “When I visited the prime minister last night, he instructed me to serve as acting prime minister . . . since we cannot delay measures to cope with the eruptions of Mount Usu.”
The volcano in southwestern Hokkaido erupted March 31 for the first time since 1978.
But the doctors said at the May 14 news conference that they assumed Obuchi was incapable of forming long sentences when he met Aoki around 7 p.m. on April 2. Yoshikuni Mizuno, a doctor at the hospital, said he was “surprised” by Aoki’s statements about Obuchi’s reported request.
At a news conference May 15, Aoki, who served as acting prime minister for three days from April 3 until Yoshiro Mori assumed the prime minister’s post, said: “Once you start doubting (my April 3 comments), there is no end. . . . I can only ask you to trust me, and I believe that many do.”
Chizuko wrote that her husband’s condition worsened after Aoki left the hospital and Obuchi underwent a computed tomography scan.
After collapsing from a stroke early on April 2, Obuchi was able to walk to a car parked in front of his official residence with the aid of his secretary, Chizuko wrote.
At the residence, Obuchi became paralyzed on his left side, but was able to say, “I want to go to the bathroom,” and “I want to drink water,” she wrote.
She quoted doctors as telling her after he was admitted to the hospital that he could resume his work as prime minister after a month or so.
She also wrote that the man lying in a hospital bed attached to a respirator in a photo published in a May edition of the weekly magazine Friday “was not my husband.” The magazine claimed the photo showed Obuchi in the hospital.