Subscribe

Spring break: The real reason Michelle Obama is going to Japan (+video)

The White House announced on Tuesday that the first lady will be traveling to Japan and Cambodia to promote girls' education. Call it a placating-vacation.

[Editor's note: The original version misstated the Obama daughters' vacation plans.]

Call it a diplomatic-patching-up, a spring break-smoothing of ties, a placating-vacation.

Michelle Obama is traveling to Japan and Cambodia March 18-22 for a state-sanctioned spring break. 

Of course, Mrs. Obama doesn’t just recline poolside – she pleasure-travels with a purpose. 

The White House has said she is traveling to the Asian nations to promote the USAID "Let Girls Learn Initiative" and a related Peace Corps program.

But here's the likely true mission: to propitiate the Japanese people, who haven't quite gotten over the Double Diss of 2014.

You see, President Obama visited Tokyo last year and that delighted the Japanese, ever apprehensive of their global popularity. But when he disembarked from Air Force One solo, without the first lady, the Japanese were dejected.

"Michelle’s absence has thrown Tokyo into a tizzy," the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi reported at the time, noting the hand-wringing and national soul-searching that took place as a result. "Mrs. Obama’s absence is a woeful sign of Japan’s retreat from the top tier of America’s allies."

To add diplomatic insult to injured national pride, Mrs. Obama had the audacity to vacation with her daughters – less than a month prior to the president's solo Japan visit – in China.

How that passed the White House's diplomatic protocol department, we'll never know.

"To the Japanese, the sight of Michelle jumping rope with Chinese kids, feeding pandas, trying out tai-chi, and meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, was more than insult added to injury," reported LaFranchi. "It was proof of China’s ascendency to the top rung of America’s strategic priorities and Japan’s fall to second class."

And while the White House waved that off as hogwash and the president did his best to charm the Japanese without his better half, it appears Michelle has some national-ego-boosting business to attend to in Japan.

Hence Spring Break Asia, Take 2.

Look for the expected photo ops – sampling sushi in Tokyo, strolling the Kyoto gardens, visiting uniformed Japanese students in a local school – as well as a diplomatic visit with Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

If all goes as planned, the first lady will depart victorious, having mollified the Japanese, again secure in their world status.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK