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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will make a condolence visit Friday to nuclear evacuees in Saitama Prefecture and are arranging to travel to earthquake- and tsunami-hit areas farther north, the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday.

The Imperial Couple will visit a defunct high school in the Saitama city of Kazo, where around 1,200 evacuees are staying after they fled from the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, where the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is partly situated. The Futaba evacuees have been taking shelter in Saitama since late March.

The Emperor and Empress have been deeply upset by the devastation wrought by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and have been sympathizing with those affected by the earthquake, the agency said.

The couple are keen on visiting earthquake-hit areas and on encouraging people face-to-face but are also concerned about overly inconveniencing local residents, it said.

The agency said it is talking with local municipalities, police and other security staff on the details of the visit, which would range from northeast Tohoku to Chiba Prefecture.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako visited Ajinomoto Stadium in Chofu in western Tokyo, where around 130 people mostly from the vicinity of the Fukushima power plant are taking shelter.

Aiko Takamatsu, 83, whose house is about 10 km from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, was asked by the Crown Prince, “How is your health?”

“I have been managing somehow,” she replied.

“It must be encouraging that your grandchild is with you,” the Crown Princess said.

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