Imperial Couple to visit Iwate in July

Kyodo

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will visit Iwate Prefecture from July 4 to 5 to encourage people affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday.

It will be their second visit to Iwate since May 2011.

The Imperial Couple will visit temporary housing units in Tono on July 4 to meet evacuees and support staff, and visit the heavily damaged coastal cities of Ofunato and Rikuzentakata the following day.

In Ofunato, they will tour a Taiheiyo Cement Corp. plant to see how they produce cement incorporating debris left by the disasters.

In Rikuzentakata, they will meet Mayor Futoshi Toba to get a progress report on the stricken city’s recovery efforts and visit a temporary housing complex set up on the grounds of a junior high school.

The Imperial Couple is also considering visiting Fukushima Prefecture, which took severe damage from the quake and tsunami and became ground zero for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear crisis, in late July, the agency said.