• The Associated Press


What would the Emperor do if he could shed his weighty crown for a day and roam freely among the common people?

Apparently, nothing.

Emperor Akihito, an avid scientist, said he does sometimes wish he had more time to do research, or “to take long walks.”

But, busy though his official duties may keep him, he said he does not spend much time thinking about being anything but what he is.

“There is nothing that comes to mind that I would like to hide my status to do,” he said Monday in a rare news conference ahead of a trip next week to the Baltic states, Britain and Sweden.

Empress Michiko, meanwhile, admitted that she has sometimes wondered what it would be like to have a cloak of invisibility.

The Empress, recalling that she once wanted to go to an art exhibit but had to stay at the palace because of concerns over crowd control, said such a cloak could come in handy.

But she also said she does not spend much time on that fantasy.

“It might cause problems for the police,” she said.

The Imperial Couple will take a 10-day trip to Sweden, Britain and the three Baltic countries. They are to depart Monday for Stockholm, where they are to meet with Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, and join celebrations marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of Sweden’s most famous scientist, Carl Linnaeus.

Linnaeus is best known for creating the system that became the international standard for scientifically classifying living organisms.

The Imperial Couple will then head for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on May 24 to 27. In the Baltic states, they are to meet Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus.

For the last leg of their trip, they are to go to London on May 27, where they are to meet with Queen Elizabeth II and attend further events celebrating Linnaeus.

The couple are to return home May 30.

Concerns had been raised that the 72-year-old Empress might not be up to the trip. In March, she suffered bleeding from the walls of her intestines, nosebleeds and mouth ulcers. The palace said the illness was stress related. But the Empress said Monday she is fine.

“I had never had such an illness before, but I have gotten enough rest and I am recovered,” she said.

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