Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike made her first public appearance Sunday after a hospitalization last month that has triggered speculation over her health and rumors of a possible resignation.
The 69-year-old visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building to attend an online meeting organized by the National Governors’ Association on Sunday, marking an official resumption of her duties.
“I’m fully back in shape now. I’ll restart my duties today,” Koike briskly told reporters as she entered the building.
The governor was admitted to a hospital due to exhaustion late last month and discharged after nearly a week. She has since been teleworking, but her health has recovered to the point where she had been assured by her doctor that she could physically return to work.
But her absence from public events such as regular press briefings over the past few weeks has spawned a flurry of speculation among tabloid media that she may resign due to deteriorating health.
This is not the first time Koike’s health has been the subject of speculation. In June, she was hospitalized for about a week because of what officials described as exhaustion linked to overwork. She was also occasionally seen coughing in public, including during news conferences, adding fuel to the rumors about her health.
At the governors’ meeting, Koike said the capital has made steadfast progress in getting its population vaccinated, noting that as of Thursday more than 80% of residents age 12 and older had already received their second shots.
The uptake has helped substantially curb infections in recent weeks and days, with just 10 to 20 COVID-19 cases reported daily in Tokyo, Koike said. The number of hospitalizations, including severely ill patients, has also been trending downward, she said.
But at the same time, she cautioned against complacency, describing booster shots as “extremely important.” To this end, the central government needs to be able to secure a stable supply of vaccines, she said.
The governor added that the virus could again start spreading in the winter due to the cold weather and as people travel long distances for the New Year’s holidays.
“It’s essential that we maximize our vigilance” against the virus, she said.
Information from Kyodo added
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