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Japanese emperor arrives in Sweden

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15:41 CEST+02:00
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived in Sweden on Monday, kicking off a 10-day tour of Europe that includes stops in the three Baltic nations, their first visit to the former Soviet Union.

The imperial couple will visit Sweden until Thursday before heading to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, followed by a stop in Britain, where they have in the past faced angry protests by World War II veterans.

Arriving in Stockholm, Akihito, 73, and Michiko, 72, were met at Arlanda airport by Sweden's 29-year-old Crown Princess Victoria and Culture Minister Lena Adelssohn Liljeroth, among others, Japanese embassy officials said.

The trip is the imperial couple's first foreign tour since June last year when they went to Southeast Asia.

It follows a trip to Sweden in 2000, and comes on the heels of a visit by Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia to Tokyo in March.

One of the main purposes of the tour is for Akihito to participate in events on Wednesday commemorating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Swedish biologist Carolus Linnaeus, who invented the current system of classifying organisms.

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