SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 14, 2011

Japan emperor makes first trip to disaster zone

MARI YAMAGUCHI and SHINO YUASA
Associated Press

TOKYO — Japan's emperor and empress have made their first trip to the disaster zone since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami destroyed much of the country's northeast coast.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited two evacuation shelters Thursday in Asahi city, about 86 kilometers (54 miles) east of Tokyo near the Pacific coast. The royal couple knelt on mats and spoke quietly with evacuees, who bowed deeply. Some wiped tears from their eyes.

Thirteen people died, and some 3,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the city. The emperor and empress plan additional visits to other tsunami-affected areas in coming weeks.