First lady's absence from trip unsettles Japan
WASHINGTON — When President Obama travels abroad, sometimes it's not enough for just the leader of the free world to show up. People in other countries want the first lady, too.
But Michelle Obama won't join her husband when he heads to Asia this week, and her absence is likely to sting, especially in image-conscious Japan. It's the first of four countries on Obama's travel schedule and one of two that are welcoming him with official state visits.
“If Madame Obama could have come, it would have been better. But the most important thing is that President Obama accepted this is a state visit,” said Matake Kamiya, a professor of international relations at the National Defense University in Yokosuka, near Tokyo. “From an expert point of view, it's sort of worrisome why Madame Obama isn't coming.”
The fact that Michelle Obama recently spent a week in China with her mother, Marian Robinson, and daughters Malia and Sasha is sure to be noted in Japan, a close U.S. ally and China rival. But the first lady's communications director, Maria Cristina Gonzalez Noguera, said it was not expected that Mrs. Obama would join the president on a return trip to Asia so soon, having returned less than a month ago.
The last American first lady who did not join her husband on a state visit to Japan was Gerald Ford's wife, Betty. Ford became the first sitting American president to visit Japan when he arrived in November 1974, a few months after he took over the office from Richard Nixon.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mom of Canada suspect: I cry for victims, not son
- Canadians more fearful, aware after ‘very rare’ attack in Ottawa
- Nasal cells help paralyzed man make history by walking
- Iraqi Kurds to send fighters to aid Kobani
- Lone gunman kills monument guard, attacks Canada’s Parliament
- Kurds, U.S. warplanes run ISIS out of Syrian border town of Kobani
- Catholic bishops back away from welcoming words to gays
- Abbas seems desperate in round of belligerent rhetoric