Her Imperial Majesty Empress Michiko of Japan is ill. This was announced in an official statement from the Imperial Household Agency yesterday, on Monday, 12 December. Empress Michiko, age 82, was diagnosed with acute bronchitis last Friday after suffering a slight fever and cough. The Empress has cancelled a planned appearance at a karate event.
On Sunday according to the official statement, she is now resting in the Imperial Palace. The statement says that the Empress has had a light cough since November and had an X-ray examination early in December, but no abnormality was found. The Empress is the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Imperial Family when she wed Akihito in 1959. The news has spread fast in Asian media.
This is not the first time the Empress has fallen ill. In 2007, the Japanese Imperial Family came with a similar statement. Then, they said that the Empress had a stress-related illness and would cancel some official duties. Some Japanese experts said then that this could be interpreted as a sign of tension in the Imperial Family because the Japanese Imperial Family had shown dissatisfaction against an Australian book that was published earlier that year that they believed were violating the Japanese Imperial Family.
There has been considerable debate about Japan’s future after the Emperor, not long ago, declared that he would like to abdicate in the near future if Parliament changed the law. The law in Japan is that an Emperor can not abdicate legally, but this is something the Japanese parliament will now look into.
Michiko is the daughter of Hidesaburo Shoda, who was a son of the founder of Nisshin Flour Milling Co. and later became CEO of the same company. She received university education at the private University of Seishin Joshi Daigaku in Tokyo, where she studied languages and literature. She has also studied at Harvard University in the US and the University of Oxford in the UK.