Japan Emperor, Empress Start Tour of Hokkaido

Society

Kitahiroshima, Hokkaido, Aug. 3 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko started their three-day tour of Hokkaido on Friday, which will probably be their last visit to the northernmost Japan prefecture before the Emperor's abdication in late April next year.

After flying from Tokyo to New Chitose Airport in the Hokkaido city of Chitose, the couple moved on to the city of Kitahiroshima, where they visited Takeuchi Farm, a vegetable farm whose workforce includes people with disabilities.

Since its establishment in 2014, Takumi Takeuchi, 38, and his wife, Ai, 35, who manage the farm, have been collaborating with a welfare office under a government program for developing the linkage between agriculture and welfare, an initiative aimed at promoting the employment of people with disabilities.

After looking around green pepper fields under the scorching sun, the Emperor and the Empress watched workers packing tomatoes and other vegetables in bags inside a greenhouse. "Well done on your work in this heat," they told the workers.

When Takeuchi explained that his farm ships 15 different crops for about 200 days a year, the Emperor was impressed and said, "You are very creative in your work."

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press