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Emperor Akihito, recovering from a prostate cancer operation, was temporarily released from the hospital Thursday afternoon and returned to his residence in the Imperial Palace to spend the night.

The 69-year-old Emperor arrived at the palace by car with Empress Michiko, who had been staying with him at the University of Tokyo Hospital since he was admitted Jan. 16.

The Emperor, who underwent surgery to remove the gland Jan. 18, is recovering steadily, according to the Imperial Household Agency. He is taking normal meals and has begun to take walks in the corridors of the hospital, the agency said.

The Emperor’s temporary return home was recommended by his doctor as a part of his recuperation, according to the agency. He will return to the hospital Friday.

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