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Former Empress of Japan set to undergo heart exam

Empress Emerita Michiko of Japan, 84, is set to undergo a heart examination according to the Imperial Household Agency on Friday.

The heart examination has been set up after Michiko’s blood test showed that she has a higher risk of heart failure. As a result, further tests will be administered at the Imperial Household Hospital.

The blood test on the Empress Emerita came after she had been experiencing more shortness of breath than she had before on her morning walks.

Doctors are likely more concerned about her heart condition after she suffered from chest pains in August 2015 for which she underwent a computed tomography scan of her coronary arteries. Michiko was then diagnosed with myocardial ischemia – which occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, her condition has been monitored carefully since the diagnosis.

Empress Emerita Michiko was born Michiko Shōda on 20 October 1934 in Tokyo into a Roman Catholic family.

Michiko met then-Crown Prince Akihito in August 1957 on a tennis court. They would go on to marry on 10 April 1959 in a traditional Shinto ceremony.

She would go on to be the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Imperial Family and the first person to be from a religious minority (although she converted Shinto upon her marriage).

The couple would have three children together, the current Emperor Naruhito, Crown Prince Fumihito, and Sayako Kuroda (former Sayako, Princess Nori). Her husband became the Emperor of Japan upon his father, Hirohito’s death in January 1989, and she became the Empress consort.

Akihito became the first Emperor of Japan to abdicate in close to two centuries on 30 April 2019. His and Michiko’s elder son, Naruhito ascended the throne the following day. Akihito then became Emperor Emeritus, and Michiko became Empress Emerita.

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