First lady Melania Trump broke with a longstanding tradition on Feb. 10 by staying home rather than acting as a tour guide and hostess for Japan's first lady Akie Abe during her visit to Washington, D.C.
In town with her husband, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Japanese first lady stopped at Gallaudet University and a National Cherry Blossom Festival committee meeting at the Japanese Embassy, though she was seen only with aides, reports CNN.
The U.S. president's wife typically hosts first spouses and other high-ranking guests, but Melania has indicated she does not intend to be a conventional first lady, from her decision to live in New York City while her son finishes the school year to the behind-the-scenes role she has taken since her husband began his presidential campaign.
On previous visits, Akie Abe has been seen touring the Washington area with former first ladies. In 2015, she and then-first lady Michelle Obama visited a Virginia elementary school and later joined their husbands for a formal State Dinner. In 2007, former first lady Laura Bush took the Japanese first lady for tea and a trip to Mount Vernon, Virginia, where the pair walked through the gardens of the historical estate of former President George Washington, before returning to the White House for dinner.
The Japanese prime minister also toured the city on his own during the day, paying his respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery before visiting the White House to meet with President Donald Trump. Shinzo Abe voiced his concerns regarding Trump's opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as the American president's "America First" policies. The Japanese prime minister said he did not want these issues to get in the way of the two nations' partnership, notes WKOW.
The men spoke at a press conference before meeting with Akie Abe and Melania Trump and flying together to Palm Beach, Florida, where the two couples will spend the weekend at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.