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Asian RoyalsJapan

NEW: Empress Emerita Michiko diagnosed with breast cancer

State Department photo by William Ng / Public domain

Empress Emerita Michiko of Japan has been diagnosed with a relatively early stage of breast cancer, and she is due to undergo surgery in the near future, the Imperial Household Agency has announced.

The former Empress, who is 84-years-old, retired from official duties alongside her husband Emperor Emeritus Akihito at the end of April, but she has been plagued with health problems for a while. A heart exam in April showed that the Empress Emerita has heart valve abnormalities and she was told to take it easy by her doctors.

The abnormalities were found in the atrioventricular valves that normally function to prevent a reverse flow of blood in the heart, according to the Imperial Household Agency. She will be not receiving treatment for the condition for the time being. The Empress Emerita’s symptoms are said to be relatively mild, but she was also diagnosed with having an irregular heartbeat. She experienced shortness of breath more frequently during her morning walks.

In addition, she also recently underwent cataract surgery on both her eyes after suffering from failing eyesight for many years.

Empress Emerita Michiko is the wife of Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan. He abdicated in favour of his eldest son, now Emperor Naruhito, at the end of April. She was the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Imperial Family, and the couple 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’s death in January 1989, and she became the Empress consort.