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Emperor Akihito, who underwent a prostate cancer operation last month, will be released from the hospital Saturday afternoon, the Imperial Household Agency announced Thursday.

The 69-year-old Emperor, who was admitted to the University of Tokyo Hospital on Jan. 16 and underwent surgery to remove the prostate gland on Jan. 18, will recuperate for the time being after being released and refrain from taking up any public duties, it said.

He was initially scheduled to stay in the hospital for around one month, but since he has been steadily recovering, doctors recommended an early release, according to the agency.

The Emperor has kept busy by looking through books of signatures from about 48,000 well-wishers, and also using the stairs at the hospital for exercise, according to the chamberlain to the Emperor.

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