Emperor Hirohito discharged "a small amount of blood" and underwent two transfusions Friday, but the government said his condition has not worsened and remained serious but stable.

Hirohito, 87, developed something of an appetite during the night, eating two tiny ice cubes, and received a shave. He was transferred to an electrically-operated reclining bed in his bedroom at Tokyo's Imperial Palace, aides said.The government's top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Keizo Obuchi, told a news conference that Japan's longest reigning monarch is showing improvement in key vital signs, including a slightly lower temperature and blood pressure and increased breathing rate.

Hirohito talked briefly with his heir, Crown Prince Akihito, 54, who Thursday assumed all of the emperor's largely ceremonial duties and also watched a Japanese drama on television.

Despite the transfer of duties, government, business and diplomatic activity has virtually come to a halt during the emperor's illness as Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and other cabinet ministers canceled travel plans. The Italian and Irish prime ministers postponed their visits to Japan this week.