Japan emperor to leave hospital Thursday
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Emperor Akihito, who was hospitalized nearly three weeks ago with a cold, fever and symptoms of bronchitis, will be discharged on Thursday afternoon, the Imperial Household Agency said.
Akihito, who will turn 78 in December, had initially been cleared to return to his palace on November 11, but extended his stay at the University of Tokyo hospital after his cough and fever worsened.
Kyodo news agency said on Thursday that his cough and fever had almost passed, however.
Akihito, who ascended to the throne after the death of his father Hirohito in 1989, has spent much of the past two decades working to close the gap between the imperial family and ordinary Japanese people.
Five days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan's northeast, Akihito made a rare public televised address and in April traveled to the disaster-struck area with Empress Michiko, 77.
Akihito had surgery for prostate cancer in 2003 and suffered stress-related health issues in late 2008, including irregular pulse and stomach bleeding. The following year, the royal agency said he would cut back on official duties such as speeches and meeting foreign dignitaries.
(Reporting by Rie Ishiguro; Editing by Joseph Radford)
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