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Japan Can't Get Enough of Ivanka Trump

Trump delivered a speech at the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo on Friday. AFP Contributor—Getty Images

In recent months there’s been a litany of news stories about how big Ivanka Trump is in Asia.

“Why Japan loves Ivanka Trump,” The Independent wrote in January. “Donald, Who? Ivanka Trump Is the Star in Japan,” read a Toronto Star story in February.

In June, TIME explained “Why America’s First Daughter Is a Hit In China.” And earlier this year there was story after story about Chinese companies trying to snap up “Ivanka” trademarks so they could slap the first daughter’s name on products from weight loss services to wallpaper.

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The articles reached a similar conclusion. People in China and Japan are, to some extent, buying what Trump’s selling: her image as a have-it-all feminist who’s masterfully balanced her roles as successful entrepreneur, mother of three, and style icon.

In Japan especially, she’s an aspirational figure for women who are regularly sidelined from their careers after having children.

“Women have to work more than twice as much to compete against men, but she has led her father’s business successfully while raising kids,” one women told The Japan Times in January.

Now, the first daughter is visiting Japan—in the flesh!—ahead of her father’s Asia trip, and she was greeted as a celebrity, with at least four television stations live-broadcasting her airport arrival. The Japanese government added an extra day to what’s typically a two-day summit to accommodate Trump, whom an aide of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described this week as “one of the most remarkable people in the world because she is actively trying to support women entrepreneurs and improve women’s participation in society,” according to The Washington Post.

Tokyo even assembled an all-female police unit to accompany Trump during her visit.

Trump promoted her own arrival in a series of Instagram posts.

On Friday, Trump addressed the World Assembly for Women conference in Tokyo, touching on her trademark issues of female entrepreneurship and women’s economic advancement, topics that align with Abe’s much-touted ‘Womenomics’ agenda aimed at adding women to Japan’s workforce.

“When women work, it creates a unique multiplier effect: women are more likely than men to hire other women, to give them access to capital, mentorship and networks,” she said, as Abe sat nearby. “Womenomics recognizes the centrality of women, who represent roughly half of our global population, in achieving true economic growth.”

More women have entered Japan’s workforce in the years since Abe launched his ‘Womenomics’ effort, but they remain over-represented in part-time or irregular work. In a report from the World Economic Forum on Thursday, Japan ranked 114th out of 140 nations in gender equality—ranking the lowest of the G7 nations by a long shot. While Japan has made progress on economic participation and opportunity for women—one of the report’s four gender equality measures—it’s seen a reversal in women’s political empowerment.

Elsewhere in her speech, Trump targeted workplace culture that “fails to treat women with appropriate respect.” She identified “harassment” as a form of this ill treatment, which “can never be tolerated,” she said.

The comment called to mind the on-going scandal involving allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein. (That controversy, it should be noted, has drawn attention—yet again—to the allegations Trump’s father faced during his presidential campaign.)

Despite the official fanfare that surrounded Trump’s arrival, media outlets covering her speech noted that the hall where she spoke was half-empty. A White House official blamed the light turnout on security that delayed attendees’ entrance to the hall, but reporters on the scene said they didn’t see evidence of that.

Trump is scheduled to dine with Abe on Friday night before leaving the country on Saturday, a day before her father arrives for his three-day Japan visit, his first as president.

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