Veteran comedian Kato Cha (63) gave a press conference yesterday to talk for the first time about his recent brush with death. The media had covered his hospitalization since October 30, but there was no official explanation regarding the nature of the problem. Kato revealed that he underwent major bypass surgery, lasting almost ten hours, in November for Stanford type A aortic dissection, the circulatory condition that killed postwar showbiz icon Ishihara Yujiro. During the surgery, Kato’s body temperature dropped to just 23 degrees and his heart stopped for almost three hours. Kato was fighting for his life for two weeks and lost some 9 kilos while in the keio University Hospital. Often at his side was his ex-wife Suzuko (45), who he divorced in 2004 after 18 years of marriage. Kato is due to be released from the hospital on Friday and says he plans to return to work in the spring after undergoing extensive rehabilitation. Flanked at the press conference by two doctors, he did one of his famous sight gags and promised to return to his “baka” (idiotic) ways as soon as he was healthy.