WASHINGTON -- When President Barack Obama travels abroad, getting just the leader of the free world doesn't seem to be enough. People want the first lady, too.
But Michelle Obama won't be with her husband when he sets off Tuesday on a four-country visit in Asia.
Her absence is likely to be felt the most in image-conscious Japan, Obama's first stop.
The fact that the first lady recently spent a week in China with her mother and daughters is sure to be noted by Japan, a close U.S. ally and China rival.
The China visit itself was seen as Mrs. Obama making up for skipping a U.S. meeting between Obama and the president of China.
The White House says Mrs. Obama plans her foreign travel based on what's best for her family.