TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

First lady's absence from trip unsettles Japan

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Sunday, April 20, 2014, 8:18 p.m.
 

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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. ‘Birth tourism’ business booming in China
  2. Antarctica yields life in extremest of conditions, so what about on another planet?
  3. Missile strike destroys dairy factory in Yemen, killing 35
  4. Oil platform erupts in flames off Mexico
  5. Martial law replaced in Thailand by security order
  6. Iraqi forces complete recapture of Tikrit
  7. Struggle continues for Iran nuclear accord
  8. Iran nuclear discussions go past deadline
  9. Co-pilot may have hidden illness, German prosecutors say
  10. Luft­hansa: Co-pilot disclosed bout of ‘severe depression’
  11. Video captures Germanwings flight’s doom