Emperor, Empress Plan to Visit Quake-Hit Ishikawa Pref. in Late March; Second Time Visiting a Disaster-Hit Area Since Accession

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Emperor and Empress in November

The Emperor and Empress plan to visit quake-hit Ishikawa Prefecture in late March, it has been learned.

It would be their second visit to an area affected by a natural disaster since their accession to the thrones in May 2019. The visit is expected to last for one day to minimize the burden it would place on locals.

The Emperor and Empress would fly in a special plane from Haneda Airport to Noto Airport in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, according to officials. They would then board a Self-Defense Forces helicopter to inspect the disaster-stricken area from the air.

The helicopter would fly over the coastal areas of the Noto Peninsula, including Suzu, where a tsunami struck, and the Asaichi-dori street in Wajima, where a massive fire broke out. They would then go by car to evacuation centers in Wajima and other areas to talk with evacuees.

According to sources close to the couple, The Emperor and Empress are deeply concerned about the severity of the damage and the situation people face in the devastated areas. While they want to visit the areas, they do not want their visit to interfere with relief work.

The Imperial Household Agency is closely monitoring the restoration of the local municipalities and coordinating with the prefectural government.

If the visit were realized, it would be the first time the couple visited a natural disaster area since December 2019, when they toured Marumori in Miyagi Prefecture and Motomiya in Fukushima Prefecture, both of which were hit by a typhoon.