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Hirohito’s Health Shows Slight Improvement

November 9, 1988

TOKYO (AP) _ Emperor Hirohito’s vital signs improved Wednesday, easing his worst crisis since he became seriously ill seven weeks ago, palace officials said.

The world’s longest reigning monarch told Imperial Household Grand Steward Shoichi Fujimori that he was feeling better, but Fujimori later described Hirohito as tired, the officials said.

On Tuesday, the 87-year-old emperor’s blood pressure plummeted and remained dangerously low for more than seven hours despite an emergency blood transfusion. At the same time his temperature and pulse rate soared.

Palace officials welcomed Wednesday’s improvement, but said they viewed it as only temporary.

Palace spokesman Kenji Maeda said Hirohito did not discharge any more blood from his bowels Wednesday and was not given any transfusions. But he said doctors believed the emperor is continuing to bleed in the area of his upper intestine.

Hirohito has received 41.56 pints of blood, more than four times the normal amount in his body, since his condition deteriorated on Sept. 19.

His blood pressure, which sank to 68 over 30 on Tuesday, was 108 over 50 Wednesday afternoon, Maeda said. A normal reading is about 120 over 80.

Maeda said doctors remained concerned about possible damage from low blood pressure, which reduces the flow of blood to the brain and other key organs.

″We would like to endeavor to maintain the emperor’s current condition,″ Maeda quoted chief palace doctor Akira Takagi as saying.

But doctors say they fear the emperor’s internal bleeding may have spread to a larger area of his upper intestine, where physicians performed a bypass operation in September 1987.

Palace sources say it will be difficult to continue giving massive blood transfusions because doctors are having difficulty finding suitable veins to do so.

Palace officials have refused to confirm reports that Hirohito has cancer.

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