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Crown Prince Given Duties of Ailing Hirohito

From Times Wire Services

The Japanese Cabinet today formally transferred the official duties of the ailing Emperor Hirohito to his son, Crown Prince Akihito, a government spokesman said.

Chief government spokesman Keizo Obuchi told reporters this morning that the 87-year-old emperor health’s was unchanged from Wednesday. At that time, Hirohito’s chief doctor said the monarch’s condition “clearly stabilized” after an intestinal hemorrhage caused the emperor to vomit blood. But he said he was not sure the bleeding had stopped.

The world’s longest-reigning monarch remained in serious condition and was being given oxygen and intravenous feeding, officials and news reports said.

Obuchi said the Cabinet decision transferring the emperor’s duties came after a request for action by the Imperial Household Agency, which oversees the emperor’s affairs.

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The 54-year-old crown prince took on part of the emperor’s duties last September, when Hirohito underwent an intestinal bypass operation. Duties include placing an official seal on government appointments and new laws, the convocation of Parliament and various ceremonial functions.

At the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, government officials and foreign diplomats continued to pay their respects while hundreds of people from all over Japan gathered outside the gates to bow and pray.

Widespread concern also touched Tokyo’s stock market, Wednesday where stocks plunged but then recovered on news that the monarch’s health had stabilized.

Across Japan, Shinto shrines held services to pray for the ailing emperor.

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Officials said Foreign Minister Sosuke Uno has canceled a planned trip to Washington today for talks with Secretary of State George P. Shultz.


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