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Emperor, Empress postpone visit to rain victims in Hiroshima, Ehime

In this June 25, 2018 photo, Emperor Akihito, left, and Empress Michiko wave to the audience at a concert for children who are suffering from cancer and their families in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko postponed to Friday their visit to Ehime and Hiroshima prefectures to meet victims of July's torrential rains that triggered deadly flooding and landslides in western Japan, the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday.

The imperial couple had planned the trip for Thursday, but bad weather in the affected region forced them to push back their schedule, the agency said.

During the day trip on Friday, the emperor and empress are expected to console people living in temporary housing in the city of Seiyo in Ehime before moving to the city of Kure in Hiroshima to speak to victims at temporary shelters.

Widespread flooding and landslides inundated and destroyed many homes, killing more than 200 people, mainly in Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime prefectures.

In Seiyo, the couple will view the areas affected by the disaster before being briefed by the mayor. A meeting with victims and volunteers is planned at a park where temporary accommodation is located.

The emperor and empress will then travel to Kure on a Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter to visit victims there before returning to Tokyo in the evening.

Their visit follows a trip last week to flood-hit Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.

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