Former Japanese empress leaves hospital after cancer surgery

Former Japanese Empress Michiko has left the hospital after undergoing breast cancer surgery

TOKYO -- Former Japanese Empress Michiko was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday after undergoing breast cancer surgery, and bowed politely to the staff as she left.

The 84-year-old Michiko was diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer in July. She had surgery on Sunday at the University of Tokyo hospital, the Imperial Household Agency said.

It said her cancer had not spread, but she will have checkups to determine if further treatment is needed.

Michiko's husband, Akihito, abdicated as emperor on April 30 and their son, Naruhito, became emperor the following day.

Michiko is the first commoner to become empress in modern Japanese history.

Akihito and Michiko have been popular with the Japanese public for breaking with traditions and bringing many changes to the monarchy. They chose to raise their three children themselves, spoke more often to the public, and made amends for war victims in and outside Japan.

The emperor and empress have no formal political power and have only symbolic status.


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