Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako on Thursday visited areas in northeastern Japan that were hit by a powerful typhoon in October and consoled the victims of the deadly storm.
The couple visited Marumori in Miyagi Prefecture as well as Motomiya in Fukushima Prefecture. Both areas were inundated when Typhoon Hagibis passed through the region. The typhoon left more than 90 people dead, including 17 in the two municipalities.
After arriving in Marumori on a Self-Defense Forces helicopter and visiting an area where a river had overflowed, the couple met people affected by the storm, including Masao Takano, 86, who has been living in temporary housing since his home was destroyed by the typhoon.
“You must have had a hard time. I am glad you are safe,” the emperor told Takano.
“I hope your life will be more settled,” the empress said.
The couple then went to Motomiya to view an area where an embankment along the Adatara River had collapsed. They also met with victims at a welfare facility.
Ten people died in Marumori and seven in Motomiya as a result of the typhoon, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
The visit, the couple’s first trip to disaster-hit regions since the emperor’s enthronement in May, followed the completion earlier this month of a series of ceremonies marking the imperial succession. In the wake of the disaster, the couple’s parade to mark the enthronement was postponed from Oct. 22 to Nov. 10.
As crown prince and crown princess, the couple regularly visited disaster-stricken areas to offer condolences and encouragement. The emperor’s parents, Emperor Akihito and former Empress Michiko, made a number of similar trips.