Bloomberg News

Japan’s Emperor Continues Recovery After Heart Bypass Surgery

February 20, 2012

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese Emperor Akihito continued to recuperate from heart surgery, as Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he prayed for a speedy recovery and the Imperial Household said it had no plan to update on his condition today.

Akihito, 78, who had prostate surgery in 2003 and was hospitalized with pneumonia in November, will remain in intensive care at the University of Tokyo Hospital at least until tomorrow, the hospital’s Dr. Minoru Ono said at a press conference yesterday. Surgeons bypassed two arteries to improve blood flow to the Emperor’s heart in a four-hour operation.

Empress Michiko and daughter Sayako Kuroda visited after the operation, and Akihito was awake and alert, Ono said, adding that he nodded in response when asked if he felt well. The procedure went as expected with no blood transfusions needed, Ono said yesterday.

Prime Minister Noda said he prayed for the “Emperor’s earliest possible recovery,” national broadcaster NHK reported today.

Concern about the emperor’s health has prompted the government to consider altering the 1947 law that mandates only men succeed to the throne and requires princesses to give up their titles if they marry commoners. Akihito’s grandson Hisahito in 2006 became the first male born into the family in more than four decades, increasing the number of potential heirs to three.

Crown Prince Naruhito, 51, will serve as regent during his father’s convalescence. Naruhito, who has one daughter, is next in line to the throne, followed by his 46-year-old brother, Prince Akishino, and nephew Hisahito.

--With assistance from Mariko Ishikawa, Terje Langeland and John Brinsley in Tokyo. Editors: Jim McDonald

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Biggs in Tokyo at; Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at

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