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Emperor and Empress of Japan visit victims of heavy rain disaster

The Emperor and Empress of Japan visited people affected by the torrential rain that hit Fukuoka and Oita last July. The trip was extended specifically for the visit as the Imperial couple were originally only scheduled to attend a ceremony for the national convention on maritime resources.

The Imperial couple arrived by aeroplane last Friday and visited the affected areas by car. The torrential rain caused mudslides and river flooding and also left 37 people dead.

Speaking to a resident, the Emperor said: “It must be really tough, but I pray for things to go in a positive way.”

The Emperor met with Hiroshi Fuchigami, 65, who lost his wife, a pregnant daughter and a 1-year-old grandson in the disaster. A total of six residents met with the Imperial couple. Mr Fuchigame told the Emperor that his pregnant daughter Yukari died holding her son in her arms.

The Empress told Shigemi Kojima, 69, who lost his wife and spent the night in the rain: “It must have been cold.” The meeting with the residents ran 10 minutes late.

On Saturday, the Imperial couple visited an exhibition of paintings and calligraphy in Kitakyushu in Fukuoka. On Sunday, they will attend the ceremony of the convention in Munakata and return to Tokyo the following day.

The Imperial couple often visits areas of disaster. They travelled to the Kumamoto Prefecture in May of last year to console those who had been affected by the earthquakes the month before. In September, they travelled to the Iwate Prefecture to meet with people who were affected by the March 2011 earthquake and the tsunami disaster. The Imperial couple is expected to visit remote islands in the Kagoshima Prefecture to meet people affected by the volcanic eruption on Kuchinoerabu Island in 2015.

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