Japanese royal visit a first in Costa Rica

January 28, 2011

In response to a request by the Costa Rican government, Prince and Princess Akishino of Japan made their first visit to the country this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Costa Rica. The royal couple arrived in Costa Rica on Tuesday and will depart Sunday.

The noble pair began their stay with a visit to the National Museum in San José Tuesday afternoon. After their black luxury car dropped them off, Prince Fumihito  Akishino, dressed in a black suit and yellow tie, walked briskly through the museum gate. Princess Kiko Akishino, wearing a blue skirt suit, black-and-white high heels and pearl earrings, followed closely behind. They greeted Culture Minister Manuel Obregón and other officials at the entrance, and then took a private tour of the museum. Later in the day, the couple held a gathering with Japanese residents at Ambassador Yoshiharu Namiki’s home in the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser.

Prince Akishino is president of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, president of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, and honorary president of the World Wide Fund for Nature Japan.

Princess Akishino holds a master’s degree in psychology and is fluent in sign language. She is honorary research fellow at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and conducts research in public health and health care. She serves as patroness of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association and is honorary vice president of the Japanese Red Cross Society.

On Wednesday morning, the couple began the day with a trip to the National Biodiversity Institute in Santo Domingo de Heredia, north of the capital. They met with President Laura Chinchilla for an honors reception later in the afternoon. The prince and princess then made their way to San José’s Parque Nacional for a floral offering, spoke with volunteers from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and dined with government officials at the National Theater.

In an effort to strengthen academic and cultural ties between Costa Rica and Japan, Prince and Princess Akishino met with students at the Japanese School of San José, and spoke with professors and students at the National University in Heredia on Thursday morning. During the afternoon, the couple visited the Lankester Botanical Garden, a University of Costa Rica research center outside Cartago, east of San José.

On Thursday evening, Prince and Princess Akishino attended a reception to commemorate the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Costa Rica at the Real InterContinental Hotel in the western suburb of Escazú.

The royal couple will end their diplomatic tour today with visits to the National Children’s Hospital and the Central American School of Animal Husbandry in Atenas, west of the capital. Later in the evening, the pair will travel privately to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in north-central Costa Rica.

Prince and Princess Akishino are scheduled to stop at the Pacific Marine Park in the port city of Puntarenas before returning to San José on Saturday. They will depart the country Sunday.

The newly appointed Ambassador Namiki met with the national press at his residence last week to discuss the visit. “I’m sure that these visits will strengthen our friendly and cooperative relations even more,” he said.

Prince Akishino, 45, is the second son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and is second in line to the Japanese throne.

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