Japan’s former emperor briefly loses consciousness, but has recovered: palace

FILE PHOTO – Japanese Emperor Akihito arrives to a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s enthronement at the National Theatre in Tokyo, Japan February 24, 2019. Du Xiaoyi/Pool via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s former emperor Akihito, who stepped down last year, briefly lost consciousness on Wednesday but has recovered, a palace spokesman said.

Akihito, 86, underwent tests after he lost consciousness and his condition was being monitored, said the spokesman at the Imperial Household Agency, which manages the Japanese imperial family’s affairs.

He declined to give further details.

Akihito, now formally known as Emperor Emeritus, had breakfast as normal on Thursday, Kyodo news agency said. He has had heart surgery and has been treated for prostate cancer.

After three decades as emperor, Akihito stepped down in April in Japan’s first abdication in some 200 years and his son, Naruhito, became emperor.

Akihito’s 85-year-old wife, Empress Emerita Michiko, had surgery for early stage breast cancer in September.

The popular Akihito was the first monarch to take the Chrysanthemum Throne under a post-war constitution that defines the emperor as a symbol of the people without political power.

He said in a televised address in 2016 that he feared his age would make it hard for him to carry out his duties fully.

Reporting by Junko Fujita and Chang-ran Kim; Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Kim Coghill, Robert Birsel

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