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Friday, 17th February 2012
In General Japan News,

Emperor Akihito arrives at hospital for heart surgery

Emperor Akihito arrived at hospital today (February 17th) to undergo heart bypass surgery.

The operation is due to take around five hours, with surgeons from the University of Tokyo and Juntendo University carrying out the procedure, AFP reported.

Bowing to doctors on his way into Tokyo Hospital, the 78-year-old emperor arrived at around 10am local time in the company of Empress Michiko.

An Imperial Household Agency spokeswoman told the news agency: "His Majesty arrived in the hospital for the operation."

Last Sunday it was announced that the emperor would undergo the surgery in a bid to maintain and improve his life after a health check found his arteries were continuing to narrow.

A book for well-wishers to sign has been placed at the Imperial Palace, with prime minister Yoshihiko Noda among the hundreds who have visited to leave a message.

While the emperor is undergoing surgery and a period of recuperation, his first son and heir, Crown Prince Naruhito, will take responsibility for his public duties.

In his birthday speech last December, Emperor Akihito praised the spirit of the people of Japan following the aftermath of the March natural disasters.

Written by Mark Smith

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