TEMPO.CO, Tokyo - Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, October 17, visited communities that were hit by a powerful typhoon.
Typhoon Hagibis killed at least 77 people last week when it lashed wide swathes of Japan with heavy rain and powerful wind, setting off landslides and widespread flooding as rivers burst their banks. Nine people are missing and 346 were injured.
"We'll do everything possible to restore your lives," Abe told two elderly women at an evacuation center, getting down on his knees to talk to them as they sat on blankets on the floor.
Abe visited Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, which suffered heavy damage in the storm. Both were also hard hit by a tsunami set off by a March 11, 2011, earthquake, which triggered a meltdown at a nuclear power station in Fukushima.
Fukushima has seen the highest number of casualties from the typhoon, with at least 28 dead as of Thursday.
Abe said the government would spend 710 million yen ($6.53 million) to help with disaster relief.
Finance Minister Taro Aso has said the government had 500 billion yen in reserves for disaster recovery and would consider an extra budget if needed.
With winter approaching and some parts of Fukushima seeing below-average temperatures, the concern is rising about the health of people in evacuation centers, some of whom lost everything in the floods.
The Ministry of Land and Transportation said on Thursday that levees had broken in more than 100 places, and authorities warned that with heavy rains forecast for the weekend, more flooding could occur.