Though Japan is always on the forefront of emoji developments (it’s where the word “emoji” originated, after all), it’s also got a deep emoticon culture as well. That’s partially thanks to the wide array of building blocks the Japanese written language provides, which allow for all sorts of creative text-based artwork.
For example, when tweeting about local activities and events, the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ Ehime Provincial Cooperation Office often punctuates its messages with an emoticon (or kaomoji/”face word”) of a chubby-cheeked smiley face flashing a salute with enough snap to produce a pair of motion lines.
However, on June 10, the Ehime Provincial Cooperation Office issued a solemn, official apology for its repeated use of the above emoticon, adding that they “sincerely regret” using it.
So what’s the problem? Is it considered too cutesy for a rough-and-tough, ready-to-fight group like the JSDF? Of course not. The JSDF itself has no problem with being kawaii, and the Ehime Provincial Cooperation Office even has its own adorable in-uniform illustrated mascot character, the river otter Kawacchi.
Nope, the problem isn’t that the account was using an emoticon for a salute, but that the salute wasn’t being performed correctly.
Up until now, when posting we have used (｀∪´)ゞas a salute. This shows a salute being performed with the left hand, which is not the correct way of saluting.
As a public relations section of the Self-Defense Forces, we wish to offer our apologies. We sincerely regret our actions, and in the future we will be using ∠(｀･ω･´)
So no, saluting kaomoji aren’t going away, they’re just being improved. It’s not clear why the account has decided to change the facial features as well, but moving forward its emoticons will be saluting with the correct right arm, and as one commenter pointed out, the right-salute emoticon’s bicep is parallel to the ground, which represents another improvement on the sloppier angle of the left-arm salute version.
Naturally, following the lesson in proper JSDF etiquette, the salute was swiftly returned in kind, with a few facial variations on display.
As silly as the subject matter may be, though, the wording of the Provincial Cooperation Office’s tweet shows that the apology is sincere, because at the end of the day in Japan you can be as cute as you want to be, just as long as you’re also polite.
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