Japan Emperor, Empress Visit Rain-Hit Ehime, Hiroshima Prefectures

Society Lifestyle

Seiyo, Ehime Pref., Sept. 21 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Friday visited people in Seiyo, Ehime Prefecture, and Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, which were heavily damaged by downpours in July.

The Imperial couple visited Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on Sept. 14. Friday's trip means that they have visited all three western Japan prefectures that were hit especially hard by the rain disaster. They used a Self-Defense Force helicopter for part of Friday's tour.

In Seiyo, the couple stood talking with around 100 people, including affected residents, rescue workers and volunteers, for some 20 minutes at a park where 58 households live in temporary housing.

The Emperor held hands with two girls aged three and five, who live in the temporary housing. "You must have been concerned as your children are still young," he told the girls' father, Kazuya Kodama, 33.

Ahead of the gathering, the couple met with Seiyo Mayor Kazuo Kanke at a hall near the park. They were greeted by some 500 people who were waiting in front of the hall. "How was your house?" the Emperor asked Shima Hyodo, 13, one of them.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press