With the first lady’s multi-stop tour of Asia comes the tradition of meeting her counterparts; this week, she will be hosted by Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook, wife of President Moon Jae-in, and Madame Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump has hosted each woman in the United States, and now it’s her turn to be welcomed.
Trump was “very much looking forward” to seeing Mrs. Abe again, the first lady’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN.
The two women visited visit to Mikimoto Ginza Main Store in Tokyo, a luxury brand with a deep history steeped in Japanese culture. The two greeted each other warmly and then headed to a small room where they had a private tea.
Following the seminar, the two women participated in a photo in front of a staircase in what appeared to be the main lobby area of the store. They were then joined for a group photo with Mikimoto senior staff and the two divers, who were clad in what appeared to be an all-white dive suit with a red face mask.
On Monday, the two will tour an elementary school together and have lunch before a state dinner in the evening with their husbands.
“The first lady was very much looking forward to welcoming Mrs. Abe to the White House upon her arrival in Washington; however, she was informed that Mrs. Abe had previous commitments during her stay in DC,” a statement from the first lady’s office said at the time.
But that weekend, the two got together, traveling to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, with their husbands.
It was clear the women were beginning to build a warm rapport during their visit, feeding koi fish at the garden’s pond and laughing delightedly together before returning to Mar-a-Lago for a private lunch together.
‘I live my own life’
Former first lady Laura Bush was also a hostess to Abe, the two visiting George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virginia.
Abe, once a disc jockey, is the daughter of a chocolate executive and now owns her own organic izakaya restaurant. She is known in Japan for having a mind of her own, sometimes publicly contradicting her husband.
Asked by CNN if the first lady feels the need to reconcile that irony with what she’s trying to accomplish, East Wing spokeswoman Grisham said flatly, “no.”
“Mrs. Trump is independent and acts independently from her husband,” Grisham told CNN at the time. “She does what she feels is right and knows that she has a real opportunity through her role as first lady to have a positive impact on the lives of children. Her only focus is to effect change within our next generation.”
CNN’s Kate Bennett contributed to this report.