Wed, Jun 12, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Former Japanese empress Michiko has heart problem

AP, TOKYO

Japan’s 84-year-old former empress Michiko has a heart problem that needs monitoring, but can go ahead with a planned trip to the ancient capital of Kyoto with her husband, who recently abdicated as emperor, media reports said on Monday.

Doctors found Michiko has heart valve abnormalities and an irregular pulse, palace officials were quoted as saying by Japan Broadcasting Corp (NHK).

Doctors on Saturday discovered the abnormalities in a heart examination after a regular health checkup showed an increase in cardiac hormones, NHK said.

Michiko has experienced shortness of breath after her daily morning walks since earlier this year, it said.

She also experienced chest pains in 2015 and received a coronary artery scan that detected symptoms of insufficient blood flow to the heart, it added.

However, she is to accompany her husband, former emperor Akihito, to Kyoto as planned, as part of his abdication rituals. She also visited Akihito’s grandfather’s tomb in western Tokyo on Thursday last week as planned.

After returning from Kyoto, Michiko is to receive scheduled cataract operations, one side at a time on Sunday and on June 23, NHK said.

Japanese Imperial Household Agency officials were not available for comment late on Monday.

Akihito, 85, abdicated on April 30, becoming the first to do so in 200 years, and now holds the title of emperor emeritus. Akihito’s elder son, Naruhito, acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1.

Michiko is the first commoner to marry an emperor in modern Japanese history. Catholic-educated Michiko Shoda and Akihito married on April 10, 1959, after what is known as their “tennis court romance.”

They broke with tradition and brought many changes to the monarchy. They chose to raise their three children themselves, spoke far more often to the public and made amends for war victims in and outside the country.

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