MINAMISANRIKU, Japan (AP) — Just 10 days after arriving in Japan as the new U.S. ambassador, Caroline Kennedy is making a twoday visit to areas devastated by the 2011 tsunami to meet survivors and highlight America’s commitment to supporting its ally.

The appointment of the daughter of President John F. Kennedy has been popular among Japanese, and it was no different at a temporary housing site in Minamisanriku, a city mostly destroyed by the tsunami.

Kennedy sat down for tea with women still living in tiny temporary housing units nearly three years after the disaster. Of 197 homes in their district, only nine were left standing. A project started by volunteers makes crocheted and knitted dish scrubbers shaped like sea creatures for sale, and Kennedy asked to buy some to give as Christmas gifts.

“Working on these things, we have to concentrate, or we drop stitches. That helps us to forget what we’ve lost,” said Akiko Sugawara, 64, one of about a half dozen residents who spent much of an hour chatting with Kennedy.

“Until I came here it was hard to really comprehend the extent of your losses. I admire your courage and resilience,” Kennedy said.

Earlier today, Kennedy visited a park in the port city of Ishinomaki to see a wide vista of the tsunamiravaged waterfront before heading to an elementary school, where students performed skits in English and sang “Happy Birthday” to Kennedy, who turns 56 on Wednesday.

Kennedy has so far stuck to carefully scripted events.



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