Japan has flamed the ongoing speculation about North Korea's leader, citing "suspicions" over the dictator's health after disappearing.

Suspicions around the health of North Korea's leader are continuing to swirl, with Japan claiming something "very strange" was going on.

The country's defence minister commented on Kim Jong Un at a press briefing, stating the fact the dictator was regularly missing from official duties caused "some suspicions".

Kim Jong Un vanished from official duties, sparking rumours the leader was either dead or incapacitated.

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He was next "seen alive" 20 days later during a tour of a fertiliser plant in Suncheon.

But the sighting did little to douse the flames of suspicion as footage from the visit appeared to show a small wound on his right wrist – a mark which was not present on his previous public appearance on April 11.

He did another vanishing act after that, reappearing three weeks later to discuss putting his nuclear forces on "high alert" amid speculation about his health.

The new comments from Japan's defence minister Taro Kono have rekindled rumours about the dictator.

"We have some suspicions about his [Kim Jong Un's] health," he told local reporters, according to The Sun.

Kono said the "very strange movements" in North Korea were because Kim was "trying not to get infected", claiming the coronavirus was "spreading around" the country.

He also claimed that Japan was exchanging information with the US and other nations relating to Kim's health but did not want to "discuss intelligence issues" at the conference, according to the report.

North Korea has insisted it has been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic, recording no cases. This has left experts sceptical, particularly given there have been more than 12,000 cases and 283 deaths from Covid-19 in neighbouring South Korea.

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The notoriously secretive nation has taken some extreme measures since the virus was first reported in January. It was among the first countries to seal its borders in February and automatically quarantined all foreign diplomats in Pyongyang for one month and controlled the movement of its population.

After asking for aid back in March when cases were spiking globally, experts believe the pandemic has worsened the country's economic troubles.

In an apparent attempt to quash the worrying health concerns, photographs of Kim were released on June 7, showing him all smiles at a political bureau meeting.

However details from the snaps have led to speculation the photos aren't recent, because no one at the meeting was wearing a face mask.

It's not the first time Kim has gone "missing". He wasn't seen for 40 days back in 2014, missing multiple public appearances believed to be because he underwent a medical procedure on his ankle.