The man that Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put in charge of the challenging task of revitalizing the economy is now facing a personal challenge of his own. State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari has been diagnosed with early stage tongue cancer and is set to undergo surgery as early as next week. He submitted his resignation but Abe said he expects him to make a full recovery and stay in his post for the meantime.
Among other responsibilities, Amari has been the minister in charge of the negotiations for free trade agreements in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership. He recently met with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to discuss several hot button issues, specifically the tariff issues on agricultural products, but they were unable to reach concrete agreements. His deputy, Yasutoshi Nishimura, will temporarily take over his duties and represent Japan in the TPP ministerial meeting that is due to start in Singapore this Saturday.
The 64-year-old Amari, said during a press conference held on Thursday that the doctors told him he will receive therapy for the next two weeks and then should take a break from his duties for another two weeks. He was first hospitalized on Monday after very “tense discussions” with Froman the day before. Amari also served as the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry from 2006-2008 and then as Minister of State in charge of Administrative Reform in 2008 under the administration of then Prime Minister Taro Aso.
[ via Business Week ]