REPRESENTATIVES of the Japanese royal family, Prince and Princess Akishino, arrived for their first official visit to Slovakia, based on an invitation by Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič. The visit, between June 23 and 26, marked the 20th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“The visit is the confirmation of friendly relations which exist between our countries and contributes to the deepening of understanding and rapprochement between Slovakia and Japan, mutual inspiration and spiritual enrichment,” said Marek Trubač, spokesperson for the president, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
Trubač added that Slovakia considers Japan to be a partner with similar attitudes, as well as one of the most important countries in Asia.
On the first day of their visit, the royal couple saw Devín Castle and the Gate of Freedom, a memorial to the victims of the previous regime. They were accompanied by Bratislava mayor Milan Ftáčnik and Devín mayor Ľubica Kolková.
Prince and Princess Akishino also met with President Gašparovič, with whom they discussed cooperation in the area of science, research, sports and culture, as well as the possible development of cooperation in teaching each other’s languages. They also met with Prime Minister Robert Fico and Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák.
The couple travelled to eastern Slovakia on June 25. They visited the Botanical Garden of the Tatra National Park in Tatranská Lomnica, the local producer of Slovak fujaras, and Spiš Castle. They also travelled to the Matej Hrebenda Slovak Library for the Blind (SLB) in Levoča, to which Japan contributed €600,000 in 2003, the SITA newswire wrote.
On the final day of their stay, Prince and Princess Akishino visited the Bratislava Zoo, Bibiana, the International House of Art for Children, and Comenius University in Bratislava where they received a memorial medal. The couple also toured Comenius University’s Botanical Garden where they planted cherry blossom trees with Lajčák, TASR wrote.
The visit was mostly of a cultural nature, since the royal family in Japan has no official political power, public-service broadcaster Slovak Radio (SRo) reported.