Japan in the News: Obama Criticized for Bowing to Japanese Emperor

Japan was the first destination in US President Barack Obama’s Asian visit.  At the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, he met with the Japanese Emperor (and Empress) who he greeted with a handshake and a low bow.  Picture below courtesy of Reuters.


Also see this very short SkyNews video from YouTube (which has over 150,000 views already).

Read the story today for more details from the UK Telegraph about criticisms by right-wing websites.  There must be more important issues to discuss than this – I personally think he was just showing respect and courtesy, he also did grow up in Asia (Indonesia).


17 thoughts on “Japan in the News: Obama Criticized for Bowing to Japanese Emperor

  1. I don’t have a problem if the President bows to the emperor but I think his bow was way to low. Bowing is cultural in Japan so it is ok. What I have a problem with was Obama bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

  2. I agree: not only is it being blown out of proportion, but critics miss an important element of it. Namely, that showing respect often gains you alot when it comes to discussions and negotiations.

    Obama is not only respectful, but he’s very smart. I think the bow shows that.

  3. Here is another one, this time from Japan Probe http://bit.ly/4qj2jZ with reference to a blog post from The LA Times.

    But I loved the poll at the bottom of the Japan Probe blog post 😀

    What do you think of Obama’s bow?

    * It’s no big deal.
    * It’s a big deal.

    (Click on view results also).

  4. Pingback: Japan in the News: Obama Criticized for Bowing to Japanese Emperor … | Drakz News Station

  5. The republican party is desperate for any kind of foothold for ousting Obama, just like they tried to do with Clinton. It doesn’t matter how minor the error is, they’re going to pound on it with all fours. The “conservative” criticism is just the result of paid shills churning out ink for the party. Expect things to get worse from here on out.

  6. This is being blown out of proportion. I agree, he was showing respect, and that gains friends. The US government hadn’t been showing respect (especially by Dubya) to anyone, except to those that would follow their lead. Building or repairing relationships is important. And yes, a bow is really the Japanese handshake. What’s the big deal?

    • Actually, the media was all over the Japan visit because Japan’s been feeling ignored and used for a long time (we have bases here, but the Japanese hadn’t gotten much attention from the White House for it). Plus, Hatoyama’s been saber-rattling over dumping some of the agreements for base locations. So, the press has covered the visit pretty closely. But the bow? The English press here hasn’t said much that I’ve seen. Haven’t watched the TV news much, so can’t say anything about the coverage there.

      • Obama is very popular in Japan (which is true for most countries) and his visit was well covered of course by the Japanese media, but not the bow (except the English press in Japan).

        • A few hours after I wrote that, I bought the day’s copy of the Japan Times and there was an article on the bow on the front page. Thing is, the article was a reprint of something written by the Washington Post, so it was just a rehash of the American coverage and not something from the Japanese viewpoint.

  7. That was a very nice bow if you watch the video. It shows he is polite and well-bred. The photographers have taken a still picture out of context, which is evil. The photos make it look like he’s kow-towing slowly, when he really did pull off a nice bow, more like a karate bow, rapid but respectful.
    And he did a very nice appropriate bow for the Empress as well. There are at least five different degrees of bow in Japan, and it is amazing that a President from Chicago can bow so he looks halfway decent at all. You try bowing to the Emperor so that you don’t look stupid, and see what you can come up with. He did a nice job.

    Stupid Americans who say that you shouldn’t bow in Japan are naive and provincial. Imagine the flack that would follow if the Emperor came to America and refused to shake hands with Obama. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, unless you’re an American. Then you don’t need to express respect. This is the Texas attitude that Pres. Bush carried, and look where it got us. What goes around, comes around.

    The President should have a Japanese trainer teach him how to bow properly for next time, so he doesn’t get caught on film improperly. So sad, that things should come to this. I wish his critics would get a life. “Don’t bite my finger off, look where I’m pointing.” They would rather try to cut down on Obama than fix the economic and international political mess Bush created. Start with economic and political cooperation, which starts with respect.

    • Thanks for visiting my site and more importantly posting a comment – much appreciated.

      Glad you viewed the video and I agree with you that it gives you a different perspective compared to the photo (which I have seen in so many places now, blogs and news web sites, some cropped, some not cropped).

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