Empress Michiko has come down with the shingles, caused by fatigue following her weeklong tour of Vietnam and Thailand, the Imperial Household Agency has confirmed. They added that the Empress has shingles “on the upper part of her belly.” She is currently receiving treatment for the illness.
It was initially not expected that the Empress would need to cancel any duties because of the illness, but the Imperial Household Agency confirmed on Friday that she would not be taking part in the traditional spring rituals alongside her husband, Emperor Akihito on 20 March.
Empress Michiko and her husband were on a weeklong visit to Vietnam and Thailand. Before their departure, the Emperor said to The Japan Times:
“In our relations with Vietnam, we welcomed as state guests to Japan His Excellency, President Nguyen Minh Triet in 2007 and His Excellency President Truong Tan Sang in 2014, and we have been kindly offered invitations to visit Vietnam.
“It is our hope that our visit to Vietnam will contribute to the further development of the mutual understanding and friendly relations between our two countries.”
While the Imperial couple was in Thailand, they paid their respects to Thailand’s late monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October. They placed flowers at his altar at the Grand Palace, and the Emperor mentioned their 50-year friendship with the late King. They also met with the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn at Dusit Palace. They flew back to Japan on a private jet.
Empress Michiko was ill just as recently as last December when she was diagnosed with acute bronchitis after suffering a slight fever and a cough. She was forced to cancel a planned appearance at a karate event.