Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe visit a former home of Chiune Sugihara, a Jew-saving Japanese diplomat, in Kaunas, Lithuania January 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
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Japan's 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 a murky land sale to a nationalist school to which she had ties. The daughter of a confectionary magnate, Abe has tried to carve out a U.S.-style public "first lady" role in a land where political wives typically stay in the shadows. But that approach comes with risks, acquaintances and experts say.Akie Abe, 55, has made waves since her husband returned to office in 2012 for a second term with activities that include taking part in an LGBT rights parade, opposing nuclear power and visiting protesters against a planned U.S. military facility on Okinawa – all positions that resonate with liberals.Akie Abe has also, however, at times publicly aligned more closely with her husband's conservative views.
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