Emperor, empress visit village in Fukushima
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Saturday visited the village of Kawauchi in Fukushima Prefecture to offer words of encouragement to residents who have returned there.
The emperor and empress took a special shinkansen train from Tokyo Station to Koriyama Station in Fukushima Prefecture. TV media showed them receiving a big welcome at Koriyama, after which they were driven to Kawauchi. The imperial couple chatted with residents and asked them how they were doing. They also observed ongoing decontamination work on houses.
Kawauchi straddles the exclusion zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In late January, the village told more than 2,500 residents that returning to the town areas outside the no-go zone was safe, following extensive decontamination of radiation fallout. About 90% of residents whose homes were outside the exclusion zone chose to leave when the Kawauchi town hall moved to Koriyama City, about 40 kilometers away.
In April, offices, schools and other public facilities restarted—the first of nine townships whose administrative functions shifted elsewhere to return.
About one-third of Kawauchi village lies within the 20-kilometer exclusion zone and remains off-limits.
The emperor and empress will return to Tokyo on Saturday night.