With Crown Prince Akihito having assumed all his father's duties, the 87-year-old Emperor Hirohito, bedridden with a serious illness, ate two ice cubes Thursday and watched sumo wrestling on television.
Palace officials, however, said that the condition of Hirohito, who suffered intestinal hemorrhaging four days ago, has not changed significantly. He remained under intensive care, they said.
More than 23,000 people took up calligraphy brushes and inked their names on registries set up at 12 sites around the country to wish a speedy recovery to the world's longest-reigning monarch.
The government, meanwhile, protested to two British newspapers for their strongly negative coverage of Hirohito. A recent headline in the Daily Star read, "Sun Sets on the God King," while the Sun announced: "Hell's Waiting for This Truly Evil Emperor."
The Sun said Wednesday: "There are two reasons for sadness as Emperor Hirohito lies on his deathbed. The first is that he lived as long as he did. The second is that he died unpunished for some of the foulest crimes of this violent century."
The emperor, who had little influence on politics, persuaded the Japanese government to accept a full surrender in 1945 rather than fight World War II to the death.