• Kyodo

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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko chatted with about 100 people, many of them British, at a reception at the Japanese Embassy in London on Thursday, thanking them for their contribution to rescue efforts and donation drives after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The Emperor, who is in Britain to attend the 60th anniversary celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, told the gathering he was deeply moved by the relief efforts undertaken by the British people.

“It was truly heartening that so many people in this country not only expressed their profound sympathy for the victims of the calamity but also promptly organized a wide range of valuable relief activities to help those in need,” the Emperor said in English.

“Your kind and practical response has, I presume, further strengthened the deep friendship that has already existed for such a long time between the peoples of our two countries,” he added.

Roy Wilsher, a firefighter who led British rescuers in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, in the immediate aftermath of the disasters, said the Emperor thanked him at the event for helping Japan rebuild itself quickly.

Paul Smith, the well-known British fashion designer who held a show in Japan to assist reconstruction efforts, said he loves Japan and that the Imperial Couple couldn’t be in Britain at a better time with celebrations for the queen’s diamond jubilee under way.

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