Thursday, April 28, 2011

The emperors of Japan visit Minamisanriku

The emperors of Japan, Akihito and Michiko visited on Wednesday for the first time one of the coastal towns north of the country devastated by the tsunami of March 11, Minamisanriku, where there were 1100 dead or missing. Minamisanriku is in Miyagi province (northeastern Japan), the most affected by the tsunami generated by the earthquake of 9 Richter month and a half ago, which killed at least 8,745 dead and 6,674 missing in this region, more than half of all victims.

Akihito, 77, and his wife Michiko, 76, arrived by helicopter to this village to prevent road traffic problems that jeopardize the reconstruction efforts, according to the Imperial Household Agency Japan. The monarchs visited a school and a gymnasium turned into shelters to talk to the evacuees, in addition to expressing solidarity with the assistance and military equipment, and share with them a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims.

In Minamisanriku more than 6,200 refugees are still living in 41 evacuation centers. The earthquake and tsunami of March 11 caused, police at last count, 14,517 dead and 11,432 missing in northeastern Japan, mostly in the provinces of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima. The emperors had visited natural disaster evacuees in shelters in and around Tokyo, but so far not been transferred to the provinces devastated.

The next Monday, May 2, the emperors are scheduled to travel to Iwate and Fukushima 11 days, where the tsunami tragedy binds the nuclear crisis on the ground of Daiichi, which has forced the evacuation of 80,000 people in a radius of twenty miles of the plant. Five days after the earthquake, Akihito went to the Japanese in the first televised address of his 22 year reign to ask them resist and help each other to overcome the country's worst crisis since World War II.

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