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Imperial couple complete final Fukushima trip of their reign

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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko talk to fishing industry workers at a wholesale market in the Haragama district of Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 11.
June 12, 2018
FUKUSHIMA–Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on June 11 closed out their last trip to this disaster-stricken prefecture ahead of next year’s abdication.
Even though Michiko was under the weather for some of the time, the couple honored all their commitments during the three-day visit, Imperial Household Agency officials said.
Michiko suffered a fever during the night of June 10 as the journey from Tokyo to northeastern Japan tired her out.
In the morning of June 11, her temperature was 38.1 degrees, but not wanting to let anyone down, she performed all duties as scheduled.
Michiko’s fever gradually receded while cool weather and rain continued throughout the day.
Although the main event in the imperial couple’s diary was to attend an annual national tree-planting festival, visits to areas damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami were also on the program for all three days. Large crowds turned out to welcome them.
The couple’s car took them from Koriyama to Iwaki and Minami-Soma in the prefecture, covering about 280 kilometers over the three days.
After offering white chrysanthemums at a cenotaph in the Haragama district of Soma to commemorate victims, the emperor and empress watched workers sort greenlings at the local wholesale fish market.
Market activities were suspended after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant seven years ago. The market has been revived on a trial basis while checks on radiation levels continue.
The imperial couple, concerned about the economic losses the market had sustained due to lingering concerns about radiation, bought flatfish and Sakhalin surf clams caught off Soma, according to the agency.
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June 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Imperial couple pass evacuation zone 5.8 km from Fukushima plant

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A car carrying Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko runs on National Road No. 6 in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 10. Bags containing radioactive soil are piled up along the road.
 
FUKUSHIMA–Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko passed through a “difficult-to-return zone” near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on June 10 on their last visit to the disaster area before abdication.
The car carrying the imperial couple was running on an expressway from Iwaki to Minami-Soma in Fukushima Prefecture when it slowed down at a point 5.8 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to the chamberlain of the Imperial Household Agency.
An Imperial Guard official accompanying the couple explained the location of the plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Although the nuclear plant could not be seen through the rainy weather, Akihito and Michiko looked toward its direction without saying a word.
After leaving the expressway, the car ran on National Road No. 6, which is lined on both sides with bags filled with radioactive soil and debris. The couple apparently saw them from inside the vehicle.
The emperor and empress attended a national tree-planting festival held in the prefecture on that day.
On the night of June 9, the couple watched hula girls’ dances at the Spa Resort Hawaiians in Iwaki where they stayed.
The resort was shut down because of damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11, 2011.
The hula girls lost their place to dance, but they toured Japan and became a symbol of reconstruction from the disaster.
Rie Igari, who had led the dancing team for four years, served as a guide for the imperial couple.
With Akihito and Michiko frequently clapping, the hula girls performed dances to three songs, including “Hana wa Saku” (Flowers bloom), a song designed to support rebuilding efforts.
“The emperor and the empress repeatedly visited Fukushima (Prefecture) after the disaster, and their visits promoted reconstruction,” said Haruna Suzuki, captain of the dance team. “Without ever forgetting our feelings of gratitude, we will continue to work to help reconstruction.”

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June 13, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment