Empress Attends Red Cross Event As First Solo Duty

Empress attends Red Cross event as first solo duty

Empress Masako has attended an annual meeting of the Japanese Red Cross Society in her capacity as its Honorary President.

It was her first solo official engagement since her husband ascended the throne on May 1.

The Empress assumed the honorary presidency this month. She attended Wednesday's event in Tokyo with Crown Princess Akishino, who is Honorary Vice-President, and other female members of the imperial family.

As about 1,900 people looked on, the Empress handed awards to individuals and group representatives who have contributed to Red Cross activities.

Later, a doctor from the Red Cross hospital in the city of Okayama reported on activities during the torrential rains that hit western Japan last July.

The Empress listened intently and nodded in agreement when the doctor explained that the staff were able to respond quickly thanks to a rescue drill three months before the disaster.

As she left the venue, the Empress asked the doctor about reconstruction efforts in the disaster-hit areas, and reportedly noted the importance of making preparations for disasters on a daily basis.