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Japan imperial couple talk online with disaster victims

Tokyo, March 4 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako on Thursday talked online with people in Iwate Prefecture, one of the three northeastern prefectures severely damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

 

The Imperial couple are scheduled to have similar online talks with people in the remaining Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures later.

 

“I’m very sorry,” Emperor Naruhito said to Takashi Ito, a 67-year-old resident of Rikuzentakata, Iwate, whose younger brother was killed in the disaster.

 

Empress Masako talked with Mikiko Asanuma, a 57-year-old Rikuzentakata resident who lost her eldest son in the disaster. Asanuma is engaged in activities to pass on the lessons learned from the disaster through picture books.

 

The Empress told Asanuma of her eagerness to read the books.

 

Nodoka Kikuchi, a 25-year-old resident of Kamaishi, Iwate, evacuated to higher ground in the wake of the disaster when she was a junior high school third-grader.

 

Empress Masako told Kikuchi, “I thought it was really good that the experiences of tsunami have been handed down and that disaster drills are held regularly.”

 

“I couldn’t help crying after receiving words of condolence,” Asanuma said after the conversations with the Imperial couple, showing her gratitude to them.

 

Asanuma said, “I’d like to hand down disaster stories with a happy feeling that I was recognized” by the couple.

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