Japanese Emperor Emeritus diagnosed with heart failure

STORY: Japan's Emperor Emeritus Akihito, father of the current emperor, was diagnosed with heart failure last month.

But his condition has improved under treatment.

That's according to an official at the Imperial Household Agency on Tuesday (July 26).

88-year-old Akihito stepped down in 2019 in the first abdication of a Japanese emperor for two centuries.

He said he was not sure he was still up to the demands of the job.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle does not pump blood as well as it should and can be treated.

The Imperial Household Agency official said Akihito is living life as usual.

A medic at Tokyo's St. Luke's International Hospital said heart failure is a very liveable condition and is not surprising for someone of his age.

The Emperor Emeritus spent much of his reign working to heal the wounds of a war waged across Asia in his father's name.

He marked the 70th anniversary of World War Two's end in 2015 with an expression of "deep remorse", a departure from previous remarks.

It was seen by some as an effort to cement a legacy of pacifism under threat from conservative Japanese nationalists.

A scientist by avocation, Akihito was the first heir in the Japanese imperial family to marry a commoner, Empress Emerita Michiko, whom he met on a tennis court.

Akihito and Michiko were warmly regarded for their role in comforting the public in tough times.

They were often seen kneeling to talk to people at shelters after disasters, an action seen as bringing them closer to the people.

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