Imperial family members were summoned to Emperor Hirohito's bedside Saturday as his temperature rose and doctors stepped up the pace of blood transfusions. The frail monarch appeared to improve slightly by nightfall.

Japan closed the first week of its vigil over the 87-year-old emperor, whose 62-year reign is a record for a living monarch. Thousands of people thronged the gates of the Imperial Palace. More than 175,000 have inked their names in registries praying for his recovery.A steady stream of relatives arrived after the palace announced the monarch's temperature was rising rapidly.

Hirohito's fever shot up to 102 Saturday afternoon and internal bleeding, which began Monday, forced doctors to give him three blood transfusions as he rested in his palace bed, a palace spokesman said. He was also given a drug to control his fever.

The emperor has cancer of the peritoneum, a membrane lining the abdominal cavity, and has had the disease for at least one year, the Kyodo news service and the daily Asahi Shimbun reported.

The chief Imperial Palace spokesman did not deny the reports but asked the media not to report that the emperor has cancer out of consideration for the monarch's feelings.