• Kyodo

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Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will visit Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures on Thursday to offer encouragement to people who were affected by deadly Typhoon Hagibis in mid-October, the Imperial Household Agency has said.

The visit will be the couple’s first to a disaster-hit area since the May 1 enthronement of the emperor, the agency said Monday. The typhoon ripped through a wide area of Japan and killed more than 90 people.

They will fly to Miyagi Prefecture aboard a special plane from Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Thursday morning and then transfer to the town of Marumori in a Self-Defense Forces helicopter to meet disaster victims there in the afternoon.

Then they will fly to Motomiya, Fukushima Prefecture, by helicopter and meet with more of those affected, the agency said. In Marumori and Motomiya, both hard hit by flooding, the death toll came to 10 and seven, respectively.

The imperial couple will fly back to Tokyo from Fukushima airport after inspecting local rivers that overflowed.

They have previously expressed their sympathy with typhoon victims and have long wished to visit the area. The agency and the prefectural governments have worked to arrange their trip after a series of ceremonies and events marking the emperor’s enthronement were completed in early December.

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