Tragic news has come out of Japan this morning.
The island nation’s former empress, Michiko, has undergone surgery for early-stage breast cancer, The Guardian reports.
The tragic announcement
The Imperial Household Agency revealed early Sunday that Empress Emerita Michiko had undergone surgery as part of her treatment plan. The 84-year-old was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in August.
The four-hour procedure took place at the University of Tokyo Hospital. There, doctors placed Michiko under general anesthesia and removed cancerous tissue from her left breast.
Following the procedure, an official told the South China Morning Post that the surgery “ended safely and [she] went back to her room.”
Michiko’s husband, former Emperor Akihito, and daughter, Sayako Kuroda, were seen visiting her at the hospital.
In April, both Empress Michiko and Emperor Akihito abdicated their thrones. It was the first abdication in the monarchy for 200 years, but then again, Michiko brought a lot of never-before-seen occurrences to the world’s oldest monarchy.
When Michiko took the throne, she became the first commoner in the history of Japan’s monarchy to marry into the imperial family. Her daughter would later follow in the footsteps of her father, also marrying a commoner.
Prior to becoming empress, Michiko was born in Tokyo and went on to matriculate at Sacred Heart, an all-girls Christian school, where she studied university-level English literature, according to Reuters. She then married husband Akihito, and had three children: Naruhito, who is the current emperor of Japan; Prince Akishino; and Sayako.
Perhaps more than anything else, Michiko is known for helping to break down some of the traditional ways of the Japanese monarchy, with her and her husband taking a more populist approach.
In 2011, for example, when a massive tsunami wreaked havoc on eastern Japan, Michiko and Akihito were right there comforting survivors.
Such things have earned the couple popularity — and not only in Japan. No doubt, people around the world will be eagerly awaiting the results of Michiko’s cancer operation.