Former Empress Michiko. AP pool photo

Former Japanese empress Michiko has breast cancer and will have an operation, palace officials said on Friday.

The Imperial House Agency said doctors found that Michiko had early-stage breast cancer on a regular health check in July. A lump was found in the mammary gland of her left chest during an ultrasound scan, the agency said.

84-year-old Michiko received the title of emeritus empress after her husband, Akihito, abdicated on April 30. His son Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 of May.

Doctors also discovered in June that Michiko has a minor heart problem that needs to be monitored, although she continued to go on private tours. Michiko also had cataract operations at the end of June.

Doctors said Michiko had lost weight in recent months, presumably because she was busy preparing and attending events related to Akihito's abdication, palace officials said. They said she needs to regain her stamina before performing an operation, due in September.

Michiko will travel to Karuizawa, in central Japan, where she and Akihito met at a tennis match in late August, and at Kusatsu's hot water resort as part of their annual vacation plans.

Source: The Associated Press

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