National

Emperor and empress may visit areas hit by Typhoon Hagibis

JIJI

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako are considering a trip late next month to areas of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures that were hit hard by Typhoon Hagibis and subsequent heavy rain, the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday.

If realized, it will be the imperial couple’s first visit to a disaster-hit area since the emperor ascended to the throne on May 1. The visit would follow in the footsteps of the emperor’s parents, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko, who made a series of visits to disaster-hit areas while the emperor emeritus was on the throne.

According to the agency, the emperor and empress were saddened to hear of the devastation caused by the typhoon and hope to visit the disaster areas as soon as possible.

Due to the serious damage caused by the typhoon, the parade that was planned for after the emperor’s enthronement ceremony on Oct. 22 was postponed until Nov. 10.

The emperor mentioned the damage caused by the typhoon and other disasters that recently hit the country in a speech delivered at a square in front of the Imperial Palace on Nov. 9 during a national festival.

“I’m concerned that there are many people who were forced to evacuate and are facing difficulty in rebuilding their lives, amid dropping temperatures,” the emperor said in the speech.

“I hope that the reconstruction process will progress and that those affected by the disasters will be able to return to living life with a sense of security as soon as possible,” he said.

Both Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have long been particularly concerned about Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were all devastated in the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Since the 2011 disaster, the imperial couple has visited the three prefectures nine times to meet with those who were affected.