Ivanka Trump, the 35-year-old daughter of President-elect Donald Trump, was photographed at a meeting between her father and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, renewing interest in potential conflicts of interest with the Trump family and the presidency because of her business interests in Japan.
In November, Ivanka attended what Abe described as a “very candid discussion,” according to the New York Times.
In a later story by the New York Times on Dec. 4, the newspaper reported that Ivanka was close to finalizing a license deal with Sanei International, a large Japanese apparel company. And the largest shareholder of Sanei’s parent company is the Development Bank of Japan, which is wholly owned by the Japanese government.
Ivanka's plans in Japan, which have been in development for two years, involve selling jewelry. A recent viewing included a glipse of what could be on offer.
“At the moment,” said Sayumi Gunji, a lifestyle-magazine editor who attended the event, “Ivanka is even more popular here than Mr. Trump.”
When asked about the potential conflict of interest in November, an anonymous person connected with the Trump organization downplayed the issue of Ivanka attending a meeting between the president-elect and Abe.
“Mr. Trump has always encouraged Ivanka and his children to attend meetings with him,” the source told the New York Times. “This meeting in question was very informal. However, they obviously need to adjust to the new realities at hand, which they will.”
Donald Trump has been heavily criticized in recent days about his potential conflict of interests, with some legal scholars arguing that the hotel mogul's dealings could be ruled unconstitutional because many of his real estate endeavors involve taking money from foreign governments.
"The underlying concern of the clause is divided loyalties," Erik Jensen, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, told NPR. "The founders wanted U.S. officials not to have any arrangements under which there could be questions about whether they were acting in the best interests of the United States, or in the interests of a foreign state."