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Public apology expected from Shinzo Abe

world Updated: Sep 24, 2007 10:32 IST

Japan's outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who abruptly stepped down this month and was admitted to hospital, plans to publicly apologise on Monday, reports said.

Abe, who leaves office on Tuesday, is expected to express public regret for creating a power vacuum, Kyodo News and Jiji Press said, quoting unidentified government sources.

The premier earlier made a similar apology in a letter read out Sunday to a meeting of his Liberal Democratic Party that picked veteran lawmaker Yasuo Fukuda as his successor.

Abe is set to address reporters at his hospital at 5:00 pm (0800 GMT), his first public remarks since he checked into treatment on September 13, the day after he announced his resignation.

Doctors say he is suffering from gastrointestinal problems caused by extreme fatigue and stress. Abe was initially expected to stay in the hospital for only a few days, raising speculation that either his condition is more serious or that he is intentionally lying low.

Abe's abrupt resignation led to a storm of criticism with even Fukuda, the incoming premier, saying that he should have stepped down earlier after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was trounced in July elections.

Abe quit amid a string of scandals embroiling his cabinet, sliding popular ratings and opposition refusal to back his efforts to extend a naval mission supporting US-led forces in Afghanistan.