• Kyodo

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Former Foreign Minister Yohei Kono was discharged from the hospital Sunday, after undergoing an operation in April to receive part of his son’s liver.

At around noon, a smiling Kono walked at an easy pace to the exit of the Shinshu University Hospital in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

He thanked the doctors and nurses, and said: “I am feeling good. In fact, it is the first time for me to feel this way in a long time.”

Kono underwent the 11-hour operation April 16 to treat cirrhosis of the liver. He has been recovering without complications and is expected to have regular checkups at a Tokyo hospital.

According to hospital officials, Kono should be able to resume political activities in the fall or later, when the dosage of an immunosuppressive agent he is taking will be reduced. Kono is a Lower House member with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and leader of a small LDP faction.

The medication is helping his body accept the transplanted liver, but it will increase the risk of him catching infectious diseases during recovery.

Kono had been suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis C. The operation became necessary when his condition worsened.

After the operation, Kono took part in daily physical rehabilitation at Shinshu University Hospital. He was also able to talk on the phone with fellow LDP lawmakers as well as Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, his office said.

Kono’s 39-year-old son Taro, also a Lower House member, is parliamentary secretary at the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry.

Shinshu University Hospital is a pioneer in liver transplants involving living donors. Some 160 such operations have been performed there.

Upon his discharge from the hospital, Kono released a statement saying he had received a number of messages from hepatitis C patients and their families since his operation was reported in the media.

“I realized that so many people are wishing desperately for improved conditions for transplant operations, steps against infections (following such operations), as well as development of advanced medical technology,” he said, adding that he will try to contribute to their cause from his position as a lawmaker.

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