Japanese princess fetes 40 years of volunteers in Honduras

Japan's Princess Mako gives a speech during a bilateral visit at the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, December 8, 2015. — Reuters pic
Japan's Princess Mako gives a speech during a bilateral visit at the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, December 8, 2015. — Reuters pic

TEGUCIGALPA (Honduras), Dec 9 — Japan’s Princess Mako and Honduran First Lady Ana Garcia de Hernandez yesterday celebrated four decades of Japanese volunteers visiting Honduras to help develop medicine, art, science and other activities.

The 24-year-old princess, granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, marked the event as part of her two-country visit to Central America begun last week in neighboring El Salvador.

“I hope the celebration of these 40 commemorative years will deepen the exchanges and mutual understanding between Japan and Honduras,” Princess Mako said in a speech at the presidential palace in the capital Tegucigalpa.

Garcia, wife of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, noted that the Japanese programme started in 1975 with two volunteers, one specialised in crops and the other in fishing, coming to the country.

Since then, she said, 1,358 Japanese arrived to cooperate in rural development, music, nursing, disease control, physiotherapy, mathematics, porcelain work and domestic art. There are currently 32 program volunteers in Honduras.

The princess arrived in Honduras on Sunday, and on Monday she inaugurated a digital museum of Mayan culture at the Copan archeological site.

Later yesterday, she was to take part in a ceremony highlighting 80 years of Japanese-Honduran diplomatic relations.

The Central American visit is the princess’ first official trip abroad without other members of Japan’s imperial family.

She most recently spent the last year in Britain, quietly completing a masters in art museum and gallery studies at the University of Leicester. She is to officially graduate in January.

Japan opened formal diplomatic ties with El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica in 1935. — AFP

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