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In Tokyo, Ivanka Trump praises Abe’s ‘womenomics’ efforts

by

Staff Writer

Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, shared a stage with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a summit in Tokyo on Friday, saying that the world must boost women’s economic power and participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Trump, an informal White House adviser, arrived in Tokyo on Thursday preceding her father’s planned visit on Sunday, his first trip to Japan since taking office in January.

Abe, who opened the summit with his own speech, pledged to contribute $50 million (about ¥5.7 billion) to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative championed by Ivanka Trump.

Sometimes glancing at Abe sitting behind her on the stage, Trump praised the prime minister’s efforts to promote women’s participation in the workforce. She said there has been “significant improvement” in Japan in recent decades, adding, “it will continue to grow in great measure due to Prime Minister Abe’s vision for Japan.”

“At the very heart of this vision, Abenomics, is ‘womenomics,’ ” she said during her 15-minute speech at the fourth World Assembly for Women, a Foreign Ministry event.

Abe, who was recently re-elected as prime minister after his Liberal Democratic Party scored a landslide victory in the Oct. 22 Lower House election, said in his speech that his government is encouraging more women to join the workforce and boost economic growth.

The remarks come as the gender disparity in the Diet remains stark, and only two women hold posts in Abe’s Cabinet.

Through his so-called womenomics policies — which seek to create “a society where women can shine,” Abe said he has “used his efforts to the utmost” on the issues of child care and creating better working environments for women.

The government has made progress by adding 1.5 million women to the workforce, while the employment rate for women in their 20s and 30s has increased by 5 percentage points, he said. However, tens of thousands of children are still on waiting lists to get into publicly certified nursery schools.

In the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap report published Thursday, Japan ranked 114 out of 144 — coming in between Guinea and Ethiopia and dropping by 13 to the country’s lowest since 2012, the year Abe was elected as prime minister in December.

Trump said this is her first visit to Japan. She was pleased by the warm welcome at the airport on Thursday, and said she was “struck by the magnificence of the skyline.”

Some TV networks covered her arrival live, and the first daughter is generally treated as a celebrity in the country. That said, her speech wasn’t particularly well attended, a fact picked up by major world media outlets. The Guardian said Trump was greeted by “empty seats,” while an online The New York Times article was headlined, “Ivanka Trump, a Media Darling in Japan, Draws Light Turnout in Tokyo.”

The Washington Post, also noting the poor turnout, quoted a White House official saying the event was “the most registered event” at the conference but that security checks had slowed the crowd. But the Post article said a reporter saw only eight people waiting at a security gate when the speech kicked off.

Trump was scheduled to have dinner with Abe on Friday evening before leaving the country on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the U.S. president is expected to arrive Sunday with first lady Melania. He will hold a formal summit meeting with Abe the following day. The president will also meet with relatives of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, as well as Emperor Akihito.