Japan’s Imperial couple pay fifth visit to Fukushima since 2011 disaster


Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Wednesday visited Fukushima Prefecture for the fifth time since a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered the country’s worst nuclear accident in the prefecture five years ago.

In the town of Miharu, the couple talked with people who are staying there after evacuating from the village of Katsurao following the triple reactor meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The Emperor told them that he hopes their communities will be rebuilt successfully.

The Imperial couple have visited areas hit by the disasters every year to see the progress of recovery. An aide said that they seem not to have forgotten the disasters even for a moment during the last five years.

On Wednesday evening, the Emperor and the Empress moved on to Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, another of the three hardest-hit prefectures. It was their sixth visit to Miyagi since the March 2011 disasters.

On Thursday, they are scheduled to visit a cenotaph erected in the Miyagi city of Ishinomaki for fishermen who died in the disaster. They will then visit the town of Onagawa for the first time since the disaster.

The couple will visit Tohoku University in Sendai on Friday before returning to Tokyo later in the day.