Arrangements are being made for Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako to visit the Noto Peninsula, possibly in late March, to meet with people affected by the powerful earthquake that struck the central Japan region on New Year's Day, an Imperial Household Agency source said Wednesday.

The imperial couple are expected to fly to Ishikawa Prefecture to see the hard-hit cities of Suzu and Wajima, among other locations. They may use a helicopter to travel due to road damage, the source said.

A person walks beside collapsed houses in Wajima in the central Japan prefecture of Ishikawa on Feb. 19, 2024, after a powerful earthquake on Jan. 1. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The emperor and empress have expressed their desire to visit the area as soon as possible to console in person those affected but without hindering recovery efforts following the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that struck the region on the Sea of Japan coast, claiming more than 240 lives.

The imperial couple visited Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in December 2019 after the region was devastated by Typhoon Faxai.

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