Police and officials at the University of Tokyo Hospital are on alert ahead of the arrival of Emperor Akihito to undergo surgery for prostate cancer on Jan. 18.
It will be the first time an emperor has undergone an operation at an institution other than the Hospital of the Imperial Household.
The Emperor, who was diagnosed with the cancer in December, will be admitted to the hospital, in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, on Thursday.
He is scheduled to remain hospitalized for about a month — an unprecedentedly long period for an emperor to spend outside the Imperial Palace grounds.
An official of the Imperial Household Agency said the agency will try not to inconvenience other patients at the hospital and will minimize the number of personnel stationed at the institution during the Emperor’s hospitalization.
The 69-year-old Emperor will be admitted to a special room on the 14th floor of a new, 15-story complex, which was completed in 2001. The “super-VIP suite,” which commands a good view of downtown Tokyo, has four rooms, a kitchen and a bath over 116 sq. meters.
The hospital charges an extra 250,000 yen a day for the suite.
It is designed to accommodate foreign VIPs, including heads of state, university officials said. The hospital was ready to accommodate Crown Princess Masako in the event of an emergency when she gave birth to her daughter, Princess Aiko, in December 2001, they added.
The floor has 30 other rooms, but a card key is required for access to the VIP area, according to the officials.
Officers from the special police squad assigned to the Imperial Household will guard the area, while plainclothes officers from the Metropolitan Police Department plan to patrol the other floors, parking lots and remaining areas of the hospital on a 24-hour basis, police sources said.
“We need to provide substantial security, but we also must be careful not to do too much. We do not want to be taken by other patients as a domineering presence,” said a senior MPD official.
The university hospital has about 1,000 beds and treats an average of about 3,000 outpatients a day. The relatively large institution also has a helicopter pad on the roof.
Since the operation will be performed on the fourth floor of a different building within the complex, officials are concerned about security when the Emperor is moved from the VIP suite to the operating theater.
According the Imperial Household Agency, the Emperor has a very good chance of making a full recovery once the cancerous tissue is removed.
The cancer is a well-differentiated tumor and will not spread, it said.
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