• Kyodo


Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived Friday in Latvia from Estonia on the third leg of their 10-day five-nation tour of Europe, marking their first visit to the Baltic state.

They will meet with Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga — the first female president of the former communist bloc — at Riga Castle and later visit the Monument of Freedom, Latvia’s national symbol of freedom and independence, in central Riga to lay flowers there.

The monument, built in 1935 to commemorate the establishment of independence in 1918, has since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 served as a stage for various events for Latvians who suffered under Soviet rule.

The Imperial Couple is then to attend a luncheon hosted by the president and her husband.

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