Japan The Longest Reign

With Hirohito's death, an economic giant begins a new era

The call came before 5 a.m., summoning the chief court physician to the bedside of the ailing monarch. Since September, when the aging Emperor was first stricken with internal hemorrhaging, he had remained in a second-floor bedroom of his residence within the walled, moated and heavily wooded grounds of the Imperial Palace. A victim of duodenal cancer, he grew weaker each day. Dr. Akira Takagi rushed into the palace within minutes of the summons, followed closely by Crown Prince Akihito and his wife Crown Princess Michiko, then by Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita. At 6:33 a.m. Emperor Hirohito, once worshiped by the...

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