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Imperial couple visits area settled by Japanese from Palau after World War II

Diplomacy

Imperial couple visits area settled by Japanese from Palau after World War II

ZAO, Miyagi Prefecture–Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited a community here that was developed through the toil of Japanese who left the battle-scarred South Pacific island of Palau after World War II.

Three residents of the Kita-Harao district who were among those who settled here from Palau greeted the imperial couple on June 17 at a stone monument commemorating the establishment of the community.

“Please take care of your health,” the emperor told 82-year-old Satoshi Yoshida, who relocated to the area when he was 14 years old.

Thousands of Japanese and American soldiers were killed in fierce fighting on Palau during World War II.

Many Japanese living on Palau moved to northern Miyagi Prefecture in 1946, but they experienced many hardships when they first settled in the area. For example, they had to clear the brush-covered cold highlands to establish a dairy industry, according to a member of the community.

They named the area Kita-Harao after “Kita no Parao,” which means “Palau in the north,” to remember their days on the South Pacific island.

In April, the imperial couple visited Palau to honor those who died there during World War II and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the war’s end.

The couple knew about the Kita-Harao community in Miyagi Prefecture and had expressed a desire to pay their respects to the returnees.

(This article was written by Kazuya Ito and Norihiko Kuwabara.)

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