Japan’s emperor visited some of the most severely damaged villages in the country’s northeast section. It was Emperor Akhito’s first such trip since the March 11 hurricane and tsunami struck, and he certainly now has a complete understanding of the pain and devastation.
Akhito spent time in Chiba Prefecture on Thursday visiting towns that suffered substantial damage and loss. A few weeks ago, Akhito and Empress Michiko knelt on mats in a gym about 50 miles outside Tokyo (see video) to take in the stories of those that survived, but have lost everything.
At the Fukushima nuclear complex workers labor to bring that facility under control. Information has been limited, but Japanese government officials say the situation is improving, and the radiation level in and around Fukushima continues to decline.
More than 25,000 people were killed in the disaster, and as the emperor learned first-hand roughly 150,000 people are still living in shelters.
Yoshihia Kato, a business owner, living and worker almost 30 miles from Fukushima told the Associated Press “I’m physically and mentally worn out.” Kato is 66 years old and runs a noodle shop.
“I have been going to funerals almost everyday because many elderly people in my neighborhood have died due to shocks and exhaustion.”
Just this week, Japan raised the severity of the nuclear crisis to that of the level of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
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