National

Emperor and Empress to visit disaster-hit prefectures in western Japan

Kyodo

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are considering a visit in September to three prefectures in western Japan that were hit the hardest by torrential rains last month, senior officials of the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday.

The Imperial Couple are hoping to visit Okayama and Hiroshima on Sept. 13 and Ehime on Sept. 20 after the areas were hit by floods and mudslides caused by heavy rains in early July.

The torrential rains claimed 226 lives, mainly in those three prefectures.

More than 3,600 people were still living in evacuation shelters as of Aug. 3, according to a Kyodo News tally.

Ahead of the planned visit, the couple invited the governors of the three prefectures to the Imperial Palace to hear their accounts of the damage.

Following the disaster, the Emperor and Empress canceled a private trip to Shizuoka Prefecture and their planned summer retreat north of Tokyo.