Prince William evokes Diana memories on Japan tsunami trip
Updated: 2015-03-01 07:54
TOKYO - Britain's Prince William on his third day and penultimate day in Japan to promote cultural and business ties, was whisked away by bullet train to Fukushima Prefecture Saturday, where he spent time playing with local children affected by the devastating earthquake and nuclear disaster in 2011 and in doing so, passing on a message of hope and revival.
Prince William, accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, visited the Smile Kids Park in Motomiya, the smallest town in Japan's northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.
At the park and adventure playground, Prince William talked with staff from the Smile Kids charity about their endeavors to make the air and water safe in Fukushima Prefecture, particularly in the interest of young children who have been orphaned in the area, following the colossal earthquake that triggered multiple nuclear meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power's Daiichi nuclear facility in March 2011.
But as the nuclear crisis rumbled on at the neighboring stricken facility and even as revelations came to light earlier this week that nuclear plant operator TEPCO had concealed an ongoing radioactive leak from the public for almost a year, the Duke of Cambridge chatted happily with the children and two lucky youngsters got to help the prince plant a new tree in the park, to symbolize hope and prosperity for the region that has suffered immeasurably since the triple disasters in 2011.
The charismatic prince, who admitted that as a youngster he "dreamed of being astronaut," dazzled the kids and the prime minister in a ball pit at the park, before the toddlers thought it would be more fun to pick up handfuls of the plastic balls and bombard the visiting dignitary in the face with them.
The amiable prince smiled joyfully and endured a good pelting from the beaming kids.
"If you didn't know he was second in line to becoming the King of England, you would just think he's just a regular, affable person. He is genuinely such a nice, benevolent human being," said Sara Tomikawa, who came out to see the prince at an event earlier in the day in Tokyo's upscale Daikanyama district.