Ailing Emperor Hirohito neared a third week in serious condition Saturday with his son and heir Crown Prince Akihito telling Japan to resume normal activities and Prime Minister Noboru Ta-keshita making his first trip outside Tokyo since the monarch fell ill.
Palace spokesman Kenji Maeda told an evening news conference the emperor showed signs of improvement and had not lost blood for more than two days - the longest period without a blood discharge since his health crisis began.Hirohito, 87, the world's oldest and longest currently reigning monarch, is believed suffering from abdominal cancer and has been bedridden in Tokyo's moated Imperial Palace since Sept. 19 when he began massive hemorrhaging.
The spokesman said Hirohito was given another transfusion Saturday afternoon to control his anemia, bringing to 12.9 pints the resupply of blood to the frail monarch over the past 20 days.
Prime Minister Takeshita paid an hourlong visit to the 54-year-old crown prince Saturday morning, briefing him for the first time on domestic and foreign affairs and receiving an update on the emperor's condition.
Akihito assumed his father's ceremonial duties Sept. 22, four days after Hirohito fell ill. Akihito, however, has not been given the title of regent, or "acting emperor," which Hirohito was awarded during the illness of Emperor Taisho, who died in 1926.
Takeshita told reporters after the meeting that the crown prince had urged the nation's people to reconsider the mass cancellations of public and private events in the wake of the emperor's illness.
"Excessive restraint on people's activities would be inappropriate," Takeshita said.
The prime minister later left Tokyo for the first time since the illness to attend a meeting of his Liberal Democratic Party at Kannami south of the capital. He returned immediately after the conclave.
A group of 319 lawyers issued a statement protesting the decision by public officials to call off hundreds of events throughout the nation in deference to the emperor's condition.
The statement read by Tokyo lawyer Masatoshi Uchida said such actions effectively raise the emperor's status to head of state from the powerless ceremonial symbol to which he was reduced following Japan's defeat in World War II.
The statement said cancellations of everything from weddings, traditional autumn festivals and children's sport days ignored those who hold the emperor responsible for wartime acts against the United States and Asian neighbors.