Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko paid a visit to Iwate Prefecture for the first time in two years to visit the residents who are still displaced from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Iwate was one of the 3 prefectures that was hit hardest by the natural disasters and there are still a lot of refugees who are living in temporary housing to this day.
The imperial couple was met by Iwate Governor Takuya Tasso and Tono Mayor Toshiaki Honda upon their arrival in Tono City on Thursday. The officials briefed the two as to the current situation, as well as the ongoing reconstruction efforts in the region. They first visited a housing complex where more than 60 people from Kamaishi and other coastal areas have been living since their towns were devastated by the tsunami. The Emperor and Empress spoke to the residents one by one and listened to their problems and frustrations.
The Emperor expressed his sympathy for an 80 year old woman who lost three siblings and a granddaughter in the tsunami. The Empress then listened as a 60 year old woman from Otsuchi Town who expressed frustration that they still have not been able to see any sort of reconstruction ongoing. The Empress told her that these things take a bit of time and gave her a few words of encouragement. The Imperial couple will also be meeting with refugees in the cities of Ofunato and Rikuzentakata on Friday. They will also be inspecting a plant that will be the site for disposal of the disaster debris.
[ via NHK ]