Prince Akishino, wife depart on trip to Europe

Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko departed Narita airport for Zagreb on Wednesday on an official trip to Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The prince, the second son of Emperor Akihito, and the princess will make courtesy calls on the presidents of the three countries and attend commemorative events before returning on June 30, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

The visit comes as Japan marks its 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations with Croatia and Slovakia. The 20th anniversary with Slovenia was last year.

The imperial couple is scheduled to visit a Croatian elementary school that sent paper cranes to the Japanese Embassy in the country following the March 2011 earthquake in northeastern Japan, as well as universities in Slovakia and Slovenia that offer Japanese language courses.