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First lady Akie Abe, once known mainly for embracing progressive causes that put her at odds with her conservative spouse, is now in the hot seat as doubts revive about the murky land sale to nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen to which she had ties.

The daughter of a confectionery magnate, Abe has tried to carve out a U.S.-style public role as first lady in a land where political wives typically stay in the shadows. But that approach comes with risks, acquaintances and experts say.

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