Japan prime minister cancels overseas trip as rain toll hits 100

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Japan’s Prime Mnister Shinzo Abe addresses a press conference at the Cotroceni presidential palace, in Bucharest January 16, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel MIHAILESCU

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has cancelled a four-country foreign trip as the death toll from flooding and landslides caused by record rains hit 100, the government’s top spokesman said Monday.

Abe had been expected to visit Belgium, France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt from Wednesday.

He cancelled the tour to the countries “to concentrate on disaster-management measures such as rescue and construction works”, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Abe is now expected to visit some of the areas worst affected by the flash flooding and landslides as early as Wednesday, according to local media.

He had been due to start the trip in Belgium on Wednesday, where he was to sign a massive free trade agreement with the European Union.

EU President Donald Tusk offered to hold that meeting in Tokyo instead.

“My heartfelt condolences and words of European solidarity with the people of Japan and PM,” Tusk wrote on Twitter.

“In view of the tragic circumstances, we are ready to move our EU-Japan Summit from Brussels to Tokyo next week.”