Japan Emperor, Empress Offer Words of Support to Victims of Noto Quake; Kind Words Energize, Encourage Residents

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Emperor and Empress are briefed at Iida Port, which was damaged by the Noto Peninsula Earthquake, in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Friday.

WAJIMA, Ishikawa — The Emperor and Empress offered words of encouragement to those living in evacuation shelters in the areas affected by the Noto Peninsula Earthquake, during their visit to Ishikawa Prefecture to meet with disaster victims.

Nearly three months after the earthquake, the victims who met the couple at evacuation centers in Wajima and Suzu on Friday renewed their determination to move forward.

When the Emperor and Empress arrived at Wajima’s health center, where 105 people are taking shelter, via microbus at about 2 p.m., they went to meet the evacuees and did not even wear slippers.

The couple knelt down and spoke to people sitting on cardboard cots and asked them if they were all right and empathized with the victims.

They spoke to about 40 people during their 30-minute visit.

One of the people the couple met was a 60-year-old supermarket employee staying at the center with his mother, who is in her 80s. After learning that his house was partially destroyed, the Emperor was concerned whether the man’s mother was injured, as well as the condition of his house.

“[The Emperor and Empress] listened to me, and it motivated me to keep going to do my best,” he said, as he had been worried about his and his mother’s future.

The couple also spoke to the police and firefighters who responded to the disaster and praised their work.

“I now feel energized and ready to start reconstruction,” said the deputy leader of the city’s fire brigade, 64.

The Emperor and Empress then went to Suzu and visited Midorigaoka Junior High School, where 83 people are taking shelter.

A woman, 59, who suffers from asthma and whose house in the city was partially destroyed, said the Empress told her to take good care of herself.

“Her voice sounded so warm,” she said. “I felt encouraged to do my best after that.”

To ease the burden on the local communities, the Emperor and Empress only stayed for the day and traveled around in a microbus.

The couple opened the windows of the bus and waved to the many residents who gathered along the roadside.