politics

Obama's bow to emperor causes outrage in Washington

252 Comments

Photos of U.S. President Barack Obama bowing to Japan's emperor have incensed critics in Washington, who said the U.S. leader should stand tall when representing America overseas.

Obama on Monday was in China, having wrapped up the Japan leg of his Asia trip two days earlier. But Washington's punditocracy was still weighing whether or not the U.S. president had disgraced his country two days earlier by having taken a deep bow at the waist while meeting Japan's Emperor Akihito.

Political talk shows have played and replayed the moment from the second day of Obama's week-long Asia tour, which set the blogosphere on fire and chat show tongues wagging.

"I don't know why President Obama thought that was appropriate. Maybe he thought it would play well in Japan. But it's not appropriate for an American president to bow to a foreign one," said conservative pundit William Kristol speaking on the Fox News Sunday program, adding that the gesture bespoke a United States that has become weak and overly-deferential under Obama.

Another conservative voice, Bill Bennett, said on CNN's "State of the Union" program: "It's ugly. I don't want to see it."

"We don't defer to emperors. We don't defer to kings or emperors. The president of the United States -- this coupled with so many apologies from the United States -- is just another thing," said Bennett.

Some conservative critics juxtaposed the image of Obama with one of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who greeted the emperor in 2007 with a firm handshake but no bow.

"I'll bet if you look at pictures of world leaders over 20 years meeting the emperor in Japan, they don't bow," Kristol said.

Some said the gesture was particularly grating coming after Obama's bow to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah at a G20 meeting in April.

The U.S. president's Asia trip comes just over a year after he won election to the White House, and is designed to shore up U.S. power in a region increasingly dominated by rising giant China.

But back home, Obama's bow in Japan seems to have grabbed much of the attention being paid to the trip.

The gesture appears to have touched a particularly raw nerve among Obama critics who said the president has hastened America's decline as a world superpower by being too apologetic and too deferential in his dealings with other world leaders.

While most of the commentary about the bow in Japan was decidedly negative, some political observers, like longtime Democratic activist Donna Brazile, came to the president's defense.

"I think it's a gesture of kindness," she told CNN, adding that the bow appeared intended to show "goodwill between two nations that respect each other."

Meanwhile, an unnamed, senior Obama administration official told the Politico.com news site that the president had simply been observing protocol.

"I think that those who try to politicize those things are just way, way, way off base," the official told Politico.

"I don't think anybody who was in Japan -- who saw his speech and the reaction to it, certainly those who witnessed his bilateral meetings there -- would say anything other than that he enhanced both the position and the status of the U.S., relative to Japan," Politico wrote.

"It was a good, positive visit at an important time, because there's a lot going on in Japan."

© Wire reports

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


252 Comments
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Little late, Majority of JT readers were quick to criticize and expressed their outrage on very same day.

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whatever, who cares, now if he bowed to Hu, that would be a problem no-one in the US cares (or is afraid) of Japan anymore yesterday's news

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Bowing is a sign of respect. It has nothing to do with not being proud. If only most Americans understand this simple idea.

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much to do about nothing!

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I think it would have been an outrage if he hadn't bowed to the Emperor. my, we American's sure seem to have a monopoly on being arrogance. we all are not like that.. observing protocal is not an option, but a means of being sucessful while in another country.

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Meanwhile, an unnamed, senior Obama administration official told the Politico.com news site that the president had simply been observing protocol.

Unnamed, I suppose, to avoid the embarrassment of being associated with protocol officials who don't know how to bow.

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Hahahhahha of course! That little emperor should be the one bowing to Obama. Japan owes respect to its mainland the U .S.

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Sadly, many Americans cannot tell the difference between respect and caving in, meeting in the middle and being a sycophant. Very sad, and it makes America look like a pack of pompous idiots.

What they fail to notice is the handshake, something the Japanese could just as easily take issue with. But they don't. The Japanese have long respected the custom of shaking hands, which is not their custom. Obama has simply met in the middle by bowing to the king (emperor is a misnomer), and no the king does not bow back. (actually he is bowing back via the handshake).

A great lot of my countrymen make me sick to my stomache. The only way they would accept Obama is if he got a law passed that infringed on their rights and showed them disrespect and power. But when he shows respect and meets others in the middle, these idiots get up and shout "weakness". Or maybe they just want to rule the world through being iron-fisted? Either way, I wish we could send them to Antarctica. They are an embarrassment.

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they should get a life. or better yet, know the customs in other countries. the US of A is not the end all and be all. by the way i am american but think there is just way too much crap people there concern themselves with and not enough on the important stuff.

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They just showed the footage on TV- it wasn't a prolonged bow like Japanese people would do at all, it was very brief- that photo just catches it at its deepest point. As for the comment above saying that "the majority of JT readers criticised", you're wrong. Check out the poll results on the front page and you will see that the majority of JT readers approve of the bow.

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This article is complete BS. I've been watching US news all day since Obamas visit and nobody has even mentioned the "bow" which ALL US Presidents or other world leaders do as simple courtesy and protocol. There has been nothing on any news channels about the bow.

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Ah, one of the many reasons im glad I dont live in the states anymore. Crybabies cant shut up about a simple sign of respect.

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Leave it to Americans to make uneducated assumptions without trying to understand culture. "In Murrica we are too busy protecting freedom to bow down to those chinese"

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Nobody says anything when Bush kisses Saudi princes... Bowing is what you do in Japan. Should the Emperor refuse to shake hands when he visits the US?

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He was simply being polite for goodness sake - or is that so very out of fashion in the States nowadays?

I'm pretty sure he'd also bow if he met the Queen of England - it's just protocol.

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Please! Someone will find anything to cry about.

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Fox commentator's opinion = Washington outrage!

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it’s not appropriate for an American president to bow to a foreign one,” said conservative pundit William Kristol

Showing nothing but his own ignorance.

We all know that if Obama was a white, Texan war-monger no-one would complain if he bowed. Because he's not white, nor Texan, or a war-monger (apparently,) the racist scum that exist in America (as they do in all other countries) seize every possible opportunity to slag him off. If he had failed to bow I guarantee they'd have found fault with that, so taking this crap seriously would be a waste of time.

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WTF? It was a very gracious and respectful act on Obama's behalf. He has set a good example for other world leaders. Perhaps they would have preferred him to give the old fella a slap on the head.

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Certainly not the most flattering picture regardless.

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Say what you will about the "bow," but in many photos with Obama and other world leaders (not that the figuredhead emperor counts as a world leader) Obama does she markedly deferential behavior and body language compared to previous U.S. presidents, both dems and repubs.

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Obama is bowing incorrectly. His bow is too deep.

If this bow is the correct way world leaders greet each other in Japan, then why isn't the Emperor bowing the same deep way?

The Emperor knew the correct protocol. Obama did not.

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Let it be.

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The Japanese have long respected the custom of shaking hands, which is not their custom.

It is now, watch any big gathering and the handshakes come out. One on One the bow works but to say it's not a Japanese custom is wrong. The bow as evidence by every public apology and the symbolism of offering ones neck is a sign of submission.

I said in the original picture thread the wingnuts would leap on this.

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So ridiculous. It's respectful! If he walked in there with his chest puffed out and his arms folded, that would be terrible. But he shows some etiquette in a foreign country and he gets criticized for it? The people in Washington just want another thing to be outraged about, honestly...

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Let's be real, the right-wing conservatives are outraged that Obama is the president PERIOD. They'll criticize him over anything, case in point.

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Who in their right mind would pay any attention to what FOX reports? What a waste of everyone's time!!

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"why isn't the emperor bowing the same deep way?"

If the emperor bowed that same deep way, he'd probably never be able to stand straight again.

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It's not a question of whether or not Obama should've bowed in the first place, it's a question of whether he bowed too low, at an angle that is much too obtuse for a man who should be showing respect to his equal.

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I find Obama's gesture kind and respectful, no need to critisize or bash him.

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One has to bow low to a short guy's eye level.

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still weighing whether or not the U.S. president had disgraced his country two days earlier by having taken a deep bow at the waist

far from it - I think it was a great gesture to an elder statesman.

For the record I am neither Japanese or American

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The place of meeting is relevant. The emperor is the Emperor of Japan and they met there. Should the emperor meet Obama in the US he would give respect to the President of the US. Notwithstanding, Obama did bend just a bit low.

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He was being polite and respectful. Unlike many of the critics.

It makes me sick to see people criticise efforts to demonstrate humility. As many have commented here already, his critics will find ANY excuse to target him, and since the content of their criticism is so incredibly inane, it merely highlights their own inferiority.

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Protocol or not, it looks ridiculous when someone as tall as Obama does it to someone as short as the emperor. I remember when Princess Diana curtsied to either the emperor or the prince (can't remember which one). She really did have to crouch right down.

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One day the wingnuts decry Obama for being pompous and arrogant; the next for deferring to heads of state on their soil. Crybabies!

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The President is simply checking to see who has the smartest pair of shoes. When two dandies meet…

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Another conservative voice, Bill Bennett, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program: “It’s ugly. I don’t want to see it.”

“We don’t defer to emperors. We don’t defer to kings or emperors. The president of the United States—this coupled with so many apologies from the United States—is just another thing,” said Bennett.

So, Bill Bennett kept HIS life together over the years? Or, is there a reason that the best gig a former Secretary of Education can get is to be a commentator for CNN. Yeah, that's it. He screwed up, too. The party is full of hypocrites.

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Wow, the USA so arrogant.

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"touch!",Kancho then "good jobu!"

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USA...Undeniably Super Arrogant

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deep-rooted Arrogance causes many problems anywhere on why they do not like America.

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For Obama not to bow would have been disrespectful, he was a guest. Those who complain are probably those same arrogant fools who want to continue treating Japan as an occupied country.

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inferior complex. he simply should of did a proper bow and then shook his hand... its over, move on.

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All this fuss from some people that think it was wrong for Obama two bow in respect to the emperor of Japan.

I am nothing, in this world, but when I feel it is necessary I will bow to someone new to me from Japan or.

I will bet your of Prime Minister of Canada did the same as the President of the USA.

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It was a gesture of respect from a world leader who knows how to act in the presence of other world leaders and state representatives. President Obama showed the respect due the Emperor of Japan.

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He shoulda marched right across the tatami in his cowboy boots, looked the Emperor straight in the eye and given him a good firm American, handshake, dammit.

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American overreaction to a simple gesture. Oh no! We are no longer a superpower! Who cares!!! Yay for being from a country who doesn't give a hoot about being a superpower.

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This is so typical of the american ignorance and arrogance that is the american trait.Ignorance that they cannot understand culture and respect and arrogance that they think their president and culture is above all others. It is for this reason (and also their lack understanding of geographies beyond their state) that Americans would forever be seen as stupid fools who flash the green bucks and never understand a thing. A wrong perceptuion yes, but one perpetuated by the minority of americans who are like that...

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Bennett was exposed as a gambler which a serious problem a few years ago, Kristol was one of the key advocates for invasion of Iraq which he said would last six months and pay for itself. These guys have no value whatsoever when it comes to any matter, especially Asia. I doubt Bennett has been out here even. Its not a part of the bible belt.

This is yet another non-issue that the obama haters are trotting out. No one other than a fox news viewer takes it seriously at all. Imagine Palin meeting the emperor, now that would be an embarrassment to the USA.

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Oh, the (manufactured) outrage!!!

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It's a difficult one. I'm sure many of us have got caught between a bow and a handshake when meeting a Japanese boss. They are probably wondering if they should shake or bow as well! A full on bow by a foreigner is kind of hard to pull off "correctly" and who would feel confident of their bow skills in front of the Emperor? He had a go, bless him!

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I was taught in a J university that this act is an act of submission. We should know there is a difference between show of respect and submission. This is purely submission. I like the guy but I must say I'm at a loss as to what he is submitting for.

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Obama is apologizing on behalf of all Americans, the original urusai, who create so many problems to the wa

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The Japanese have long respected the custom of shaking hands, which is not their custom. Obama has simply met in the middle by bowing to the king (emperor is a misnomer), and no the king does not bow back. (actually he is bowing back via the handshake).

Numbskull: good post.

With people like Bush residing as the President, other countries viewed the US as an arrogant, complacent nation full of reckless cowboys. It's obvious that Obama is trying to change that image into something better by showing the world that Americans are respectful of other cultures... unfortunately, the mere fact that someone would criticize this bow simply means to me that they are unwilling to understand and respect other cultures. I guess conservatives are the same anywhere in the world: afraid of change.

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Well, I support Obama, but I think this was embarassing. Now what, he´s going to mock-fight sumo in the Imperial garden?

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Is this story still going on? All right he was bowing because he wanted to look the emporer in the eye... (joking)

Seriously, I think Obama was trying to be sensitive to Japan's customs. The emporer was probably caught off guard, so he didn't reciprocate.

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That's exactly how Emperor Hirohito bowed to General MacArthur his new overlord when they first met. But Obama didn't lose, he's not a war criminal!

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This is so typical of the american ignorance and arrogance that is the american trait.Ignorance that they cannot understand culture and respect and arrogance that they think their president and culture is above all others. It is for this reason (and also their lack understanding of geographies beyond their state) that Americans would forever be seen as stupid fools who flash the green bucks and never understand a thing.

You know, I could say the same thing about Japanese people. Say Obama came to Japan and did not pay a call on the Emperor. What would the reaction be? Or if the Emperor came to America and went to D.C. and was not put on the President's schedule? I am sure that there will be a fuss. Heck, people here got in a bit of a snit because Abe was the second or third person Obama spoke to on the phone when he entered the White House, or the drama that was in the J-news awhile back on one of the Presidental trips and the debate was what signal it would send if the went to Korea or China first and then Japan.

So I take it then since the PM of India and the others didn't offer the bow, they must not be as enlighted as Obama is.

Bottom Line, I understand and respect the Emperor and Japan and its customs, but I think that we should step back for a moment and at least respect the ideas and customs of the US. Instead of bashing the "right wingers" at least understand how they see it.

I remember how when Bush 41 threw up on the PM here, those on the left were aghast and really let him have it on news shows and entertainment TV, so it is going to be the same with this gesture.

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Reading the criticism against Obama by the media and govt. officials shows me why US is seen as arrogant and have fallen in the eyes of the world.

Obama is an excellent diplomat as well as a president who has very sound ideas and understanding of other cultures.

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I would refer those who would criticize President Obama to generally-understood diplomatic protocols, protocols that are also observed by the US State Department in its dealings with foreign countries, including those countries that have constitutional monarchs.

Generally speaking, when in the presence of royalty (specifically the reigning monarch), whether it be that of Japan or the United Kingdom or one of the North European countries, a bow (or a curtsy in the case of women) is understood to represent the formal method of greeting such personages. That is just the way it goes folks. Such protocols have been around for hundreds of years, and they will be around for hundreds of years more. Now if those who criticize the President do not understand such practices, you have to wonder about the quality of education that such people received.

At the same time, however, if President Obama could be criticized for anything at all, it would be his shaking hands with His Imperial Highness, such behavior being rather "daring" to say the least.

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What??? The Emperor of Japan SHOOK HANDS with Obama?!?!?! He is the EMPEROR! He does not have to shake hands with anybody! How embarrassing! Besides, he could catch the flu or something.

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So when Hillary Clinton meets the Queen of England she isn't supposed to curtsy because American Secretaries of States don't defer to foreign monarchs? Obama was simply showing respect for another culture, in whatever culture he is in. It's in line with Obama saying he's a "Pacific President." He knows the understands the cultures of the Pacific. Hey, he can boogie, too, unlike former U.S. Presidents.

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what's he gonna do next? kiss an ay-raqi? what he want to be bowing to some chinese fella fah? etc etc the comedy of ignorance

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...some Americans are forever arrogant! no wonder their average citizens are ignorant about the world.

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The only monarch he bowed even more deeply to is King Faahd of Saudi Arabia.

But then again, he got a big, fat gold medal from that one ("serious bling", as Obama proudly declared afterwards).

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I'm pretty sure he'd also bow if he met the Queen of England

He has met her, and the greeting was what was described as a 'deferential nod and a handshake' (albeit two-handed - a no-no).

I'm sure Obama has much more important things to worry about getting right. Get the conservative miniature rotties off his coat-tails, and let the man get on with his job.

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One can't make an appropriate assessment of this situation without knowing the significance of bowing in the two represented cultures.

In Japan, bowing is an acceptable greeting or a gesture of respect. On the other hand, the U.S views bowing as an act committed by a subservient to a superior, the magnitude of difference between the two being that of peasants and kings.

Next we look at the level of significance.

In Japan it is a basic gesture, if one doesn't bow it's not a big deal and nobody will get offended if you opt not to. In the US, however, bowing enters the realm of being a social taboo. If I bowed to my boss in anything but a joking manner there would be an awkward moment lasting anywhere from 20 seconds to 5 minutes where he would have absolutely no idea how to respond.

With that information in mind I'd say that the costs associated with that bow easily outweighed any respect points he may have garnered in Japan. Cultural respect goes both ways and, unless I've missed my guess, handshakes are acceptable forms of greeting in both cultures.

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Making a mountain out of a mole-hill...

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I don't understand the big deal. Wow, the republicans even go as far as saying bowing is a cardinal sin. Impeach the president, how shameful. Shows you just our arrogant some people can be. This is a normal respectful gesture even though it may have been done improperly. I don't think the Japanese will hold it against him. In fact I say it will do just the opposite. Granted his bow should have been 15 degrees but a more respectful bow is closer to 45 degrees. From what I have seen of many Japanese blogs it has been positive. Here are just a few of the statements made. 1.What a bow! 2. Such a deep bow from Obama, what a fine guy. 3. I'm surprised he bowed. He's really trying hard to meet the Japanese way! 4.President Obama is a top-class person, isn't he? Amazing! 5.The Emperor is giving a nice smile! 6.I laughed because it was a much better bow than I had imagined. Obama's huge! 7.Obama has more of a true Japanese heart than most Japanese do. How does this translate to being bad.

I can care less what the media thinks as are bios anyways. They have had it out for Obama from the beginning. I also find it funny that they say people are outraged!! Who the Republican Party, Fox News!! Give me a break why not ask the American people what they think. Why does the government feel a need to speak for the people. It makes us all look bad. I think it was a very respectable gesture and more then I can say of our previous president aka dumping his lunch all over the prime minister. Yea that makes for a good impression lol. In regards to the emperor not bowing it wasn't out of disrespect. The emperor has traditionally not bowed to anyone due to Japan's religious beliefs concerning the emperor as a spiritual figure. This is no different then when the first lady gave Queen Elizabeth a hug. No one touches the queen but the first lady didn't do that out of disrespect. She was just not informed of proper protocol but the Queen took it quite well as no harm was done. Yet the media once again felt on making it a big deal.

The media is the plague of the world along with most politicians. Their god is ratings at the expense of it's people. They would rather see our world go up in flames if it meant to please the ratings gods. They represent their constituents and big business of which supports them. It wouldn't hurt us to just once have some humility and shame. Instead of always going on the defensive. At least Obama is making the effort more then I can say from all the jackals surrounding him. It is sad such a fuss is being made over this as is giving US a black eye over an otherwise fruitful trip to Japan. Obama's speech was masterful and the best I have heard from him yet. Strange how it takes a Black American President to bring out the best in people or the worse. Washington pundits have finally crossed the line. I have no use for them whatsoever. When you can't even show a gesture of good will without being criticized for it then this world is truly doomed. Thank god we have a president that has some guts to stand up to all those who appose peace and harmony among all nations. He is truly a man of vision.

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I think America should be proud that they have a president who respects the cultures/traditions of other countries...

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Will he curtsy when he meets the Queen of England?

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Bowing to someone else doesn't make him half a man. It shows both respect and humility. Traits even ordinary people need.

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No other world leader does a 90 degree full out prostration to the Emperor of Japan. What point is President Obama trying to make by being the only world leader to do so? Perhaps it is simply a continuation of Obama's world apology tour. The man obviously believes that the nation he leads is the worst nation on earth and should be subservient to all others. The symbolism of national leaders is quite telling. He exudes weakness with every foreign nation he visits. It's as if he is begging some enemy to take a shot at America. He is a national disgrace.

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It is the power handshake guys. The emperor is as strong as an ox and Obama is simply reacting to the excruciating pain as any of us mere mortals would. Too bad the camera man missed what happened next when the Emperor pointed out a bald spot to his wife on Obamas head.

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No other world leader does a 90 degree full out prostration to the Emperor of Japan.

It looks more like 50-60 degrees if you ask me.

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Obama is so tall compared to the little emperor that he had to bow that low to make it seem even remotely respectful. End of story.

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timorborder I would refer those who would criticize President Obama to generally-understood diplomatic protocols [...] Generally speaking, when in the presence of royalty (specifically the reigning monarch), whether it be that of Japan or the United Kingdom or one of the North European countries, a bow (or a curtsy in the case of women) is understood to represent the formal method of greeting such personages. That is just the way it goes folks. Such protocols have been around for hundreds of years, and they will be around for hundreds of years more. Now if those who criticize the President do not understand such practices, you have to wonder about the quality of education that such people received.

I would refer you to the State Department Handbook on protocol. The President does not bow to any foreign monarch. The First Lady does not curtsy to any foreign monarch. This has been established etiquette and protocol since the birth of our nation. I would refer you to a history book on the Revolutionary War and America's historical opposition to monarchy.

Call America an "arrogant" nation all you want, but until now, no American President bowed to a foreign monarch. There is nothing "arrogant" about refusing to bow or curtsy, as the mutual display of respect between dignitaries in the 21st century involves a "firm shake of the hand" or mutual nod of the head. Note how when Emperor Akihito meets with Hu Jintao of China, or Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea, they exchange hands -- NOT bows.

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an affermative action guy kowtows to his betters

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The americans are worried that it may look like a sign of weakness? im sorry but im sure the US economy is in a shambolic state as well as the Health care system and many more to mention. They havent won a war since World war 2 despite starting several so they have every right to be seen as weak. It is a mark of respect he was a guest in japan therefore when in someones house you abide by their rules... it is simple manners. I have no idea why americans think they are above everyone else? munch some humble pie..

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As an American, I find that Americans are ignorant to the very concept of strength, especially how it is perceived in Asian culture. Having lived in Japan for over 2 decades, I can say that if anything, Mr. Obama's gesture showed a strong and confident America. It takes me back to when I studied Aikido. My instructor (at the time) was a 7th degree black belt and yet if you saw him walking down the street, it would have been impossible to imagine. He looked like (and certainly was) a gentle old man. However, in that Aikido dojo he was the most powerful martial artist you'd ever see. I learned from him, what it truly means to be strong and powerful which is much different from arrogance, for the strongest people in the world are also the kindest. They have an inner calm and confidence that doesn't require them to be arrogant. A humble gesture from the most powerful nation in the world shows a nation that is tolerant of other cultures and confident. This is a different world and therefore we need a different America. Well played Mr. Obama.

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With all the things Obama is doing wrong, THIS is what the neo-cons want to talk about?

These far-right loons are obsessed with Obama.

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In addition, if any American is being disrespectful, it is those so-called Americans who openly criticize our president on a national and international stage without understanding or waiting to see the results of his actions, therefore weakening any effort of goodwill he has done on our behalf. Another example of their ignorance is to refer to him as Obama when the proper American protocol is to refer to him as Mr. Obama as the elected president of the United States. These people don't even respect American culture or protocol, so of course they would have a hard time respecting and/or understanding Japanese protocol. I'm afraid for my country as it seems it has become a country of uneducated whiners with opinions rooted in ignorance.

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Wow. When the right wingnut crowd starts blatantly overreacting about bowing, in Japan, it can only indicate that President Obama must be doing things correctly.

I'm ashamed to call you people Americans.

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Good to see the United States retain the title as the worlds superbower.

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Ironic, isn't it, that some of the strongest leaders in the history of the world are always remembered for their acts of humility, not for their acts of arrogance. Wasn't it Jesus of Nazareth who washed the feet of his disciples?

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DarkKnightNine - excellent posts.

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I would refer you to the State Department Handbook on protocol. The President does not bow to any foreign monarch. The First Lady does not curtsy to any foreign monarch. This has been established etiquette and protocol since the birth of our nation. I would refer you to a history book on the Revolutionary War and America's historical opposition to monarchy.

What he said. Protocol is, that the President of the United States, doesn't bow to anyone. This breech in protocol by the President must be deliberate. His bowing and apologizing to everyone, makes me think how important it is, that we get an actual leader into the White House, who can then apologize for the rank stupidity shown by our current President. He will also need to apologize for apologizing.

Wow. When the right wingnut crowd starts blatantly overreacting about bowing, in Japan, it can only indicate that President Obama must be doing things correctly.

You're trolling right? Only reason you could possibly have to say this. I won't get into your crack about those who are offended by this, but there are many people of both political persuasions who are shocked by this behavior.

I'm ashamed to call you people Americans.

After watching Potus bow to the Emperor, I am too.

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I would refer you to the State Department Handbook on protocol. The President does not bow to any foreign monarch. The First Lady does not curtsy to any foreign monarch. This has been established etiquette and protocol since the birth of our nation. I would refer you to a history book on the Revolutionary War and America's historical opposition to monarchy. Call America an "arrogant" nation all you want, but until now, no American President bowed to a foreign monarch. There is nothing "arrogant" about refusing to bow or curtsy, as the mutual display of respect between dignitaries in the 21st century involves a "firm shake of the hand" or mutual nod of the head. Note how when Emperor Akihito meets with Hu Jintao of China, or Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea, they exchange hands -- NOT bows.

Since you like to read books, let me refer one to you. Sun Tzu's Art of War. Sun Tzu says (and I'm paraphrasing) "what may have worked before doesn't work for present circumstances. The most dangerous war is the last one won. It must be forgotten as It makes a General arrogant and overconfident. An intelligent General must adapt with the times". The world is a much different place and maybe it's time for a change in American attitude. The cocky cowboy attitude doesn't play well with the rest of the world and only alienates us. American would be nothing without it's allies. Mr. Obama has our best interests at heart whether you want to realize it or not.

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Wow. The Republican/right wing crowd are really shooting themselves in the foot. If they want to win the next election, this is not the way to go about it.

They really seem to be such sore losers. The only way they can cope is to resort to smearing (not even effective smearing at that), instead of being rational and actually helping to address some of the serious issues America is facing.

For a country that is supposed to be international and pride itself on being the "melting pot", you would think people would understand bowing is quite common in Japan and happens from time to time.

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I have a silly question? If Obama didn't bow but just shook his hand instead as had been proper protocol for all heads of state that meet him, Would that gesture would be consider 'arrogant' by the lefties here and would you demand that he should have 'bowed' instead?

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If Obama didn't bow but just shook his hand instead as had been proper protocol for all heads of state that meet him, Would that gesture would be consider 'arrogant' by the lefties here and would you demand that he should have 'bowed' instead?

we wouldn't have noticed. only arrogant idiots are making an issue out of this.

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He was being polite and respectful.

That's all it seems to me. Nothing more. Good on him.

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Argue 'protocols' all you want, hate on the president trying to keep good ties with another country all you want as well. I think it was a good move.

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Goodness me. When some people get upset because their elected political leader bows to a Japanese emperor then you really do have issues.

“We don’t defer to emperors. We don’t defer to kings or emperors.

The President does not bow to any foreign monarch. The First Lady does not curtsy to any foreign monarch. This has been established etiquette and protocol since the birth of our nation.

I imagine that these kind of people would vote in favour of colour segregation on the buses and in restaurants.

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http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n158/codename_009/BushKissingSaudiPrince.jpg

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@Reicheru

I would refer you to the State Department Handbook on protocol. The President does not bow to any foreign monarch. The First Lady does not curtsy to any foreign monarch.

You've suggested that President Obama broke from protocol and cited two things from "the handbook". Please share the reference for your citations.

I can't seem to find this thing at state.gov, loc.gov, or any mention anywhere on the internets.

I'm not saying you haven't actually seen this handbook nor that it doesn't exist (and such sentiment from the founding fathers is to be presumed). However, googling "state department handbook" returns roughly 21,700 results many of which are DoS handbooks "on" various subjects but protocol doesn't appear to be one of them.

"state department handbook on protocol" returns one: your post here.

Then there's the book on protocol that claims to be used by both the White House and State Department, "Protocol". They just printed their 25th anniversary edition (http://www.usaprotocol.com)

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I reckon Mr Obama could teach many a young Japanese lass a thing or two about bowing and the protocol.

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Only in America, could respect be viewed as a weakness..

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I actually happen to think it was a nice gesture on Obama's part only because I live in Japan and know the Japanese appreciated it (though folks to get off the politics for once, it was really a pretty crappy bow, my Japanese friends all know it but still appreciated it) but I can understand how some back in the States would be upset. If I was a laid-off U.S Autoworker in Michigan and saw this picture I don't think I would be thinking warm fuzzy feelings of my President bowing before the Emperor. As a matter of fact if I were that person I'd be pretty upset by it. Point is it may be sensitive to Japanese culture but was it really sensative to American culture after all given the hardtimes our auto industry is going through and the Japanese auto industry is still in pretty good shape overall?

Just food for though and Northlondon...The race card???? Please play that garbarge somewhere else.

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great post above, timorborder.

"Will he curtsy when he meets the Queen of England?"

if he has a sex-change operation, i suppose he will have to.

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It has nothing to do with who is the strongest nation or anything else.. it is just to do with 'manners'.... When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

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According to the Constitution of the United States of America ALL people are born equal with equal rights.

A true American does not acknowledge Emperors, Kings, Queens etc. If I met the Emperor I would just shake his hand and give the common courtesy bow that I would give any older man. The Japanese Emperor is only an old man to me (and should be to all Americans).

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sailwind: "I have a silly question? If Obama didn't bow but just shook his hand instead as had been proper protocol for all heads of state that meet him, Would that gesture would be consider 'arrogant' by the lefties here and would you demand that he should have 'bowed' instead?"

The reason your question is 'silly' (as you admit) is because you are going to completely throw away any answers you don't want to hear. For example, I would not at all demand that Obama bow if he chose not to, the same way I would not criticize him for bowing if he were told not to by you guys but felt it was the appropriate and kind thing to do. And how do you 'demand that (someone) should' do something anyway? Regardless, I would make no demands, and I'm sure the Japanese and no one else made any demands either. Once again the president was acting as he felt he wanted to in the situation, and it immediately helped improve relations.

I can't figure out why you guys are so downright insecure and need to criticize on this issue, but do not at all deceive yourself -- it is nothing but pre-adolescent insecurity and lack of confidence in yourself.

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The U.S. President is, contrary to what Americans believe, not the king of the world. It appears his ego is also smaller than his countrymen's. It was just a gesture of friendship and respect.

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A true American does not acknowledge Emperors, Kings, Queens etc. If I met the Emperor I would just shake his hand and give the common courtesy bow that I would give any older man. The Japanese Emperor is only an old man to me (and should be to all Americans).

So you're saying he shouldn't have visited the Emporer at all, since he is just some old man? He is Japan's head of state after all...

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You CAN have a problem with this greeting without it being political. THere are many democrats who are uncomfortable with the image as well as republicans. It doesnt make you a cowboy or arrogant to want to see your countrys leader showing himself and his county the same respect every other world leader in this situation has shown.

On top of that.. had it been just a bow, hands to the side, it would have been much less strange looking. But the handshake coupled with such a deep bow looks very strange. Does anyone posing here really think it looks good or are they just knee jerk defending him?? If you think it looks good fine. I happen to disagree. I think it looks amateurish and over reaching, therefore it makes me uncomfortable.

But thanks for the continuing anit-American drivel... the comments section never fail to provide that banter. Most likely from the American left.

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Bowing in USA and bowing in Japan have different meaning or level. bowing in Japan is just shake hands and a smile in USA. whereas bowing in USA is same as someone kissing the ground in Japan.

Cultural differences, if some conservative leaders in USA cannot handle it then they would not be able to handle leadership itself.

Obama shows how he can be flexible to any types of cultures... Many leaders of Big and Powerful Companies in the World are doing this ...and their are very successful in their respective businesses. No leader cannot lead the Globe, if he do not think Globally.

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"On every single occasion, Obama has gone out of his way to display inferiority and fealty to foreign royalty. Not only is this considered a violation of state department protocol, which decrees that presidents bow to no one, it also goes against the grain of historical American opposition to Kings and Emperors."

Paul Joseph Watson www.infowars.com

http://www.infowars.com/the-significance-of-the-bow-obama-is-a-house-servant-for-the-global-elite/

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The Japanese Emperor is only an old man to me (and should be to all Americans).

You must be a busy person speaking for 300 million people.

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The conservatives are looking for any chance to attack Obama. These rabid Fox News types go off on ravings anytime anything is done by the leaders they oppose. So this should not be taken for more than partisan ravings of rabid conservatives anyway.

As for deference to a foreign leader. Why not show respect to peers in the world. Japan is our friend. Maybe a little more of this kind of gentle respectful humility would contribute to raising our image in the world back to being a power that is benevolent instead of the unilateral monster of war we had become under the paranoid and dangerous Bush administration.

As for the media. Fox is the pet of the right. CNN the pet of the corporate world along with most of the others. Not much of what they report has any real value to how things go in the world. It is largely pandering to their customer's political and social ideas. So for Fox that means finding ways to bash Obama at every corner. And for CNN it means finding ways to gain ratings to make their corporate advertisers happy. Period.

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"State department protocol indeed decrees that presidents bow to no one, and has had to deal with similar controversies before, when then president Bill Clinton did a semi-bow to Japan's Emperor Akihito."

Alex Spillius

(article at www.telegraph.co.uk)

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“We don’t defer to emperors. We don’t defer to kings or emperors. The president of the United States—this coupled with so many apologies from the United States—is just another thing,” said Bennett.

That's your problem... The people living in America think they are almighty and that "other" people should bow to them - the "other people" being a part of their ancestry (which they often seem to conveniently "forget"...) My parents always taught me that a little bit of politeness is not only "free-of-charge" but can go a long way to ameliorate relationships whether between individuals or countries. (How soon they forget the way they treated the REAL Americans...)

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Just food for though and Northlondon...The race card???? Please play that garbarge somewhere else.

And likewise sailwind, please play that Americans should not bow before Kings or Monarchs garbage somewhere else.

If I was a laid-off U.S Autoworker in Michigan and saw this picture I don't think I would be thinking warm fuzzy feelings of my President bowing before the Emperor. As a matter of fact if I were that person I'd be pretty upset by it. Point is it may be sensitive to Japanese culture but was it really sensative to American culture after all given the hardtimes our auto industry is going through and the Japanese auto industry is still in pretty good shape overall?

Oh, please. How on earth can President Obama's polite bow to the Japanese emperor have anything to do with the US auto industry ! Is the emperor of Japan also chairman of Nissan ?

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Does anyone posing here really think it looks good or are they just knee jerk defending him??

The whole picture looks odd, but hey does Obama's gesture indicate he will get the marines out of Futenma? Give in to Japan on trade issues? Not a chance in h*ll, so it's all a tempest in a teacup..

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The Japanese Emperor is only an old man to me (and should be to all Americans).

The right wing American Republican attitude to the rest of the world in a nutshell.

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Junnama - "So you're saying he shouldn't have visited the Emporer at all, since he is just some old man? He is Japan's head of state after all..."

Yes, I am saying that.

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Anyway, just went and watched a video of the event. The picture is so misleading.

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Yes, I am saying that.

Good thing you aren't a diplomat. Questioning other country's method of selecting head of state isn't likely to make any friends.

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The President of the United States should only meet with ELECTED heads of State for political matters. Emperors, Queens etc are only celebrities. Sure, the President of the U.S. may meet with a movie or rock star just like any other celebrity.

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Did anyone read this regarding Obamas 90 degree bow to Japan's Emperor?

"State department protocol indeed decrees that presidents bow to no one."

No? Try Again.

"State department protocol indeed decrees that presidents bow to no one."

STATE DEPARTMENT PROTOCOL = PRESIDENTS BOW TO NO ONE

Got it now?

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The President of the United States should only meet with ELECTED heads of State for political matters. Emperors, Queens etc are only celebrities. Sure, the President of the U.S. may meet with a movie or rock star just like any other celebrity.

Well as long as your being practical, reasonable, and trying to get along with others I suppose I can agree with your position.

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eigonosensei (the "no sensei" part is right at least) said:

So, believing everyone in the World is born equal is bad?

Which country are you talking about exactly?

Can't be America where 10% of the population owns 71% of the nation's wealth, the top 1% controls 38% and the bottom 40% owns less than 1%.

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Oh, please. How on earth can President Obama's polite bow to the Japanese emperor have anything to do with the US auto industry ! Is the emperor of Japan also chairman of Nissan ?

In a symbolic way..yes. Just as President Obama in a symbolic way is the head of all American industry.

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Obama's bow was about 15 degrees too low, and he did it while shaking hands. Just shows he has only superficial knowledge of Japan and makes him look philistine. If Obama felt the need to bow, he should have done it at the same time and same angle as the emperor. Compare this picture to the one of MacArthur slouching next to Hirohito and still towering over him, showing the true position of the U.S. next to Japan.

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Can't you people find anything useful to be up in arms about? There are millions of issues out there that need time and attention. But I guess it is easier for the right wing crowd to freak out over a simple well intentioned bow than to deal with a long list of problems posed by the real world around them. Afterall, thumping your chest and talking about the grand American ego is free and easy to do isn't it. Much more to your taste than actually doing something to make the world for our own citizens or anyone else better.

You disgust me! Move on and deal with some issues that matter. This bow is nothing.

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The President of the United States should only meet with ELECTED heads of State for political matters.

Why? That doesn't make any sense.

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"State department protocol" said what?

who care?

he was in japan with the japanese emperor and he want to do it japanese way, right or wrong, the Japanese don’t even care. He already earns a lot more respect back in return from the local by trying to do it.

believing everyone in the World is born equal is bad?

It is nothing wrong to believe that, but born equal have anything to do with greeting with a Japanese couple?

Believing in equality mean that the Japanese in japan have to shakehand when greet with an American?

Believing in equality mean that the amrican president doesn’t have an equal right to select the way he wants to greet with Japanese people?

Equal mean, do it all correctly by the American way?

I believe in equality, and I only see an American guy meet with a Japanese couple then I see both side try to show their respect to each other. I don’t see anything wrong. I don’t understand why I want to complain about them.

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Well said! "thedeath"

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Yeah, what's wrong with trying to show a little repect?! Geesh!! Isn't being deferential and apologetic kind of a good thing?! Maybe if more world leaders had these qualities we would have better global communications and more peace!

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Well, he did break state protocol. Then again, the US does have some things to apologize about, even to Japan. Such as the direction the country took after the crisis in 1989.

It might also be gratituity. Without 'loans' from Japan, Obama would not be able to keep Capitalism going and thus would be out of a job (as Politics is closely tied to the monetary system).

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Showing respect is much better than showing arrogance. This is a storm in a tea cup. Are they so starved of real news in the U.S.?

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On ya Obama! "While in Rome......." How on earth can this cause outrage?

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Obama's bow was about 15 degrees too low, and he did it while shaking hands. Just shows he has only superficial knowledge of Japan and makes him look philistine.

But nowhere near as superficial as your post.

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STATE DEPARTMENT PROTOCOL = PRESIDENTS BOW TO NO ONE

Got it now?

Well I guess that's one state department protocol in the trashbin then. Next.

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Obama's bow to emperor causes outrage in Washington

The headline here is misleading and contrived to garner a lot of response as usual. 'Washington' is not outraged. The real headline would read 'a handful of anti-Obama Republicans are upset about it'. This headline has been made up.

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I notice the Emperor is shaking hands, which is not a Japanese custom. But nobody in Japan cares about that. Too much partisanship, too much storm in a tiny, tiny teacup.

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Absolutely nothing wrong. It is a friendly gesture, and that is all. Nothing wrong when one human being gives respect to another. Emperor, President are just titles and do not mean much IMHO.

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I think after the bow, he should have done the moon walk. Both were big fans of Michael Jackson and it would have been appropriate.

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Why making a big deal out of this? This is absurd; why can't a man show his respect for other cultures and whatnot?

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yeah even 'God' nods/bows sometimes... :-O

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Those who are outraged could be the people who wonder why many people in the world do not like America.

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Reality check -- none of the "outraged" folks cited in the article are even relevant. They are conservative talk show hosts/pundits on FOX and CNN. FOX recently admitted in a recent lawsuit that it was not a "news" source as that terms is commonly understood. So who really cares whether these folks are outraged? They need to say something to spark a rise in ratings...

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I will give President Obama some credit here though. It must be nice to get a bow in to get a good gander at a pair of fancy shoes then the alternative of having someone throw them at you.

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Mr. Obama as a private citizen can bow to anyone he choose, but as the president of the U.S. it is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the U.S. and the people of Japan. Mr. Obama is willing to sell his soul and the U.S. in order to get approval of the world.

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Will there be riots in Washington due to the outrage?

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Americans don't see it as simply an act of protocol. They see it as a sign of submission. Right or wrong, that's the way it looks. It's particularly significant with Hatoyama's anti U.S. comments and Ozawa's anti-Christian comments made recently. Personally I think it's over the top. The Japanese don't even bow that low anymore for the most part. Lately, it's almost like Obama is just asking for the American people to vote him out of office. And, who gives a crap whether the rest of the world doesn't like Americans. You have noooooo idea how hard it is to be an American. It's not what you see on MTV cribs or in the movies. Most Americans work very hard and deal with lots of adversity that Europe and Japan's citizens don't even have to think about. By the fact that you don't like America without knowing much about it shows how ignorant and bigoted you are.

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"I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people. But I will gladly shake your hand."

Joseph Brant (Mohawk) to King George III

It is a tradition rooted in the belief that one man or one class to superior to others (lord/vassel. noble/commorer, master/slave).

Fredrick Douglas would have taken him to task.

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I agree completely with dolphingirl...if more people in the world ESPECIALLY world leaders, showed more respect and deference for each oher, the world would be a better place. I don't see a thing wrong with this pic where two prominent men are showing respect for each other's cultures by using the gestures each other's cultures have for greeting.

And yes, apparently it must be an awfully slow news week in the States! Geeez!!!!

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Americans don't see it as simply an act of protocol.

Perhaps it is time for them to look a little more outside their own country and realize there is a whole array of customs and ways of life out there? Just a thought...

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Once again, President Obama has demonstrated to the world what a truly classy gentleman his mother and grandmother raised him to be. Both, I'm sure, are very proud of him. Mr. Obama is showing deep respect, which is not to be confused with showing deference, by bowing to the emperor as is the custom in Japan. Those who are critical of the President for doing this are just plain ignorant of basic Japanese etiquette.

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Move long people nothing to see here nothing to see!!!!!

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he should have bowed but not so deeply, and the emperor should also acknowledge by also bowing or at least nodding his head.

In Japan, such a deep bow is associated with a subservient situation, or with important customers.

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Faux outrage. As in Murdoch's Faux News

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Little late, Majority of JT readers were quick to criticize and expressed their outrage on very same day.

Most are in a constant state of outrage, so it's hard to pin down a date.

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"why isn't the emperor bowing the same deep way?"

The puppet strings don't go down that far.

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It seems he broke protocol.

But I don't recall his predecessor being a stickler for protocol.

http://blog.buzzflash.com/analysis/306

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Hey Akihito, nice shoes you got there, are they Bostonians?

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Obama broke protocol for American presidents by bowing. However he has already demeaned himself in a similar fashion with the Saudis. Obama is also notorious in the US for not placing his hand over his heart as expected during the Pledge of Allegiance. Other leaders of lesser nations, moreover, do not bow to Akihito who is merely a royal figurehead with no real power as it should be. Japan is a democracy, not a kingdom. By the way, neither Clinton nor Bush ever bowed to Akihito. A polite handshake is quite sufficient.

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Pendents aligned with the opposition to a wildly popular president are "outraged," news at 11!

Is this a slow news day or just really shallow reporting. Honestly, this sort of "outrage" is as common as tissue.

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Just HOW racist is Washington? Anti-Japan, anti-cultural identity, anti-when in Rome!

No wonder so many people are anti-American.

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Mr Obama, You have shown you are a TRUE GENTLEMAN that knows the customs of Japan. I respect you for that. Thank you!

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Interestingly, a new word seems to have been coined regarding the US-Japan relationship.

Previously: Japan Bashing ジャパン バッシング Next: Japan Passing ジャパン パッシング This time: Japan Nothing ジャパン ナッシング

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If Obama was pushing a walker instead of shaking hands he would look like a typical Japanese obatarian.

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Definitely in bad taste, both in posture, and in intercultural sensitivity. The depth of the bow is certainly subservient to the point of being in a position of apology.

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Beelzebub,

Rather, Japan welshing.

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I think Obama was right, and nice of him to give such a gesture. But I dont understand why the Emperor didn't bowed to him. He also should show his respect to someone who actually a President of a country, not a shallow religious puppet.

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He shoulda marched right across the tatami in his cowboy boots, looked the Emperor straight in the eye and given him a good firm American, handshake, dammit.

Then said "HI BIG DADDY!" and given him a slap on the back.

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That there are now 160+ posts on this means the talk news noise monkeys have done their job.

They win. Everyone loses. Congratulations.

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He was wrong to do it but also right for doing it.

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Every president makes an effort to be polite in each country. I agree with yokomoc above...this kind of discussion gets ridiculous, where mundane things are spun out of all proportion.

http://images.google.co.jp/images?q=bush+kissing+saudi+prince&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=JGwCS_vlIYqgkQWs06y3AQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4&ved=0CBwQsAQwAw

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Yelnats: the moon walk! very funny!!

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Imagine if Obama had bowed to Hatoyama!

Good thing the PM was out of town. What the pundits in Washington should be wondering is if Obama was settling for second best by meeting the Emperor, or bypassing politicos to meet with the big cheese.

Obama did a great job. Anyone who knows Japan knows he did it right. Others don't care; they just have to hate Obama for something or other this week.

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Nessie!! Everyone else is hit and miss and you come on and smack four for four!!

Very impressive. Economy. Efficiency. You are the Ted Williams of JT.

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Oh come on! I don't really like Obama but what was wrong with the bow? I agree It would be strange if he bowed to Hatoyama though. If he met Queen Elizabeth or another Monarch I would expect him to bow too. Get over yourselves people and start worrying about the important things in life. Not a bow and its depth!!!!

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That Obama guy can do whatever he wants with his body. I don't really care. That old gentleman looks pleased. It's always nice to see old people smiling.

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Mr. Obama is showing deep respect, which is not to be confused with showing deference...

How can you tell the difference, specifically?

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Often 2 people can have deep respect for each other, but it is rather rare and odd for 2 people to defer to each other. That's the difference.

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Often 2 people can have deep respect for each other, but it is rather rare and odd for 2 people to defer to each other. That's the difference.

So the Emperor, by not bowing deeply, is showing his lack of deep respect for Obama. Is that correct?

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Mark_McCracken- "So the Emperor, by not bowing deeply, is showing his lack of deep respect for Obama. Is that correct?"

Apparently.

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obama bowed to Saudi king while standing tall in front of Queen Elizabeth of England

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In 1971 when President Nixon bowed to Emperor Hirohito on US territory (Alaska, I think) , it was very OK because both men were bowing to each other and at angle of about 15 degrees. But this time president Obama is on Japan soil and his action makes Japanese people very happy. It should be viewed as a plus for America's diplomatic effort.

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I don't see how a deep bow to the emperor is going to make anybody in Japan happier than they are. The right wing nut jobs are still going to run around criticizing everybody. The rest don't care. A 15 degree courtesy bow would have been sufficient. Cap'njohn is right, if he stood up to the queen he shouldn't be groveling to the Saudis or the emperor.

And yeah, the emperor isn't going to do a deep bow to Obama. For those of you who don't know; the subordinate is always supposed to bow more deeply than his superior. Obama really didn't read his "Japanese culture" briefing.

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"Sorry, sleeping on the floor last night really did my back in."

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Can't believe people are making such a big deal out of such a brief, fleeting bow that doesn't show deference at all, just friendly respect. If he were to show deference or submissiveness, he would have bowed longer and without shaking hands. Of course, only showing a freeze frame of it makes it look as though he were trying to humble himself. This bow, when seen in actual footage, not just a frozen moment, is NOTHING to get excited about at all!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0mZfpOfQYc&feature=related

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"Glad to meet you, your Majesty - hey, those are some snazzy shoes you're wearing!

In 4 years, President Palin will probably just wink at him. You betcha!

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It shows his respect to the Emperor who is a lot older than him. It sends a positive signal to Japan that negating will be done on a equal basics no more of America demands Japan gives in. If the neo conservatives in America are upset it is not my problem. If I meet the emperor would at least do a 45. President Obama is a very respectful person and need to pay more attention to him.

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Here's what the US State Department really says:

"You will also need to be aware of different greeting rituals such as kisses, handshakes or bows."

Protocol for the Modern Diplomat, 2007, www.state.gov/documents/organization/99260.pdf,

Where is this State Department prohibition on the President bowing that these people claim exist?? As far back as the Revolution, Americans on diplomatic missions in Countries where bowing was the customs certainly did so - http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F04E7DA1231E13BBC4A52DFB7678389649FDE

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If Obama is such a respectful person, how come he didn't agree to respect the wishes of the Japanese people and remove all U.S. bases from Japan?

Sarge: The Japanese should also think about how many Japanese would lose their jobs as a result of the US bases being removed...It's easy to speak out loud, but in the present economic situation the Japanese should think about their rice bowl too. Maybe Mr Obama thought about that and won't remove them..:)

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At least the Japanese people aren't taking offense at his awkward bow, thank goodness. Though I'm still a little disappointed his staff didn't give him a basic tutorial on bowing, maybe they will be a little more on top of things for his next visit.

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When we r bowing, we get a backache, when people are shaking hands they get a neckache. Mars vs,Venus, short people vs. tall people. It's all good!!!

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All this just shows the sad state of affairs in the minds of many people in the U.S.

It is precisely this kind of inane thinking in the U.S. ("The US President shouldn't bow to anyone") that prevents a more positive view of the U.S. to take hold.

As I stated before, Obama is showing respect for Japanese culture by bowing and the Emperor is showing respect for U.S. culture by shaking hands.

Trying to find fault with Obama's action is ridiculous. He has a lot of fences to mend around the world and I reckon he's making a good start.

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Obama's not actually bowing there the Emperor is using Ju-Jitsu on him .

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“I’ll bet if you look at pictures of world leaders over 20 years meeting the emperor in Japan, they don’t bow,” Kristol said.

I have seen websites featuring pictures of 46 different heads of state greeting Emperor Akihito, and the only who bowed was Obama.

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American conservatives are always making big deals out of non issues... truth is most people here dont care..

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Too many comments to read them all, but it illustrates the typical 'ugly American' arrogance to think that he 'shoudln't bow' to other world leaders. When in Rome as they say. It isn't a sign of weakness to show respect to a foreign leader but a sign of mutual respect. For too long Americans have arrogantly thought that we 'rule the free world'. It's time to stop acting like the tough bully and time to start showing wizened maturity. To say that no American leader should bow to a foreign one is stupidity and why too many people think Americans are idiots. Just a political ploy to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

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Obama bows to the Emperor of Japan, bows to the head of the House of Saud, but can't be bothered to place his hand on his heart when the national anthem plays at military ceremonies where he, Commander-in-Chief, is on stage. Maybe he worries that "too many people think Americans are idiots", or maybe he believes the world took a wrong turn circa 1989...

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I do not see any problems with an American president bowing to the emperor - within certain limits anyway. When visiting, a small bow shows respect - both for the emperors age and his status.

The only issue with Obamas bow is that it seems his staff did not do any research and drill him in his options. The bow seemed very awkward, something he thought he should do at the very last second without a chance to mentally reherse the move.

As such, it was too deep and rather oddly combined with a handshake, seemingly leaving the emperor uncertain as to how he should respond. A quick, slight, bow would have been more appropriate for heads of state ... respect amongst equals. I blame his diplomatic staff, it is their job to make sure their president understands basic protocol in every country he visits.

In short, Obamas intentions were good, he simply wasn't quite sure how to express them. Cultural faux-pas are hardly unusual in either diplomatic or business circles and it is wise to view them in the best light.

American critics of this simple show of respect though ... I believe they still think it's proper to look down their noses at Japan 60+ years after the war - as inferiors expected to bow to their American masters. In some ways America never moved on from its post-WW2 "king of the world" mentality. It's a comfort, keeps up the national ego perhaps, but it is also serious self-delusion which will have increasing consequences as time goes on.

I think Obama will receive a lesson in humility from the Chinese this week ... who have zero intentions of adjusting their currency to make life easier for the USA and europe. The center of the world has largely shifted from north America and is taking up new residence in east asia.

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But Washington’s punditocracy was still weighing whether or not the U.S. president had disgraced his country two days earlier by having taken a deep bow at the waist while meeting Japan’s Emperor Akihito.

Crap! When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Don't be too proud!

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He shook his hand as well! This is only an issue for right-wingers in their perpetual quest to oppose and vilify everything Obama does.

Republicans are simply hypocrites and cry-babies. They seek to do as much damage to Obama as they can no matter how it affects the country. Shame on these people, as all they seem capable of doing is embarrassing the US in front of the world.

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Opinion!

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Much ado about nothing. I am not a drinker of Obama Kool-Aid, but I do have sense enough to know that the idea that an American President should never bow to another head of state is just arrogant. Protocol should first be studied, then followed. IIn Japan, follow Japanese protocol. When Emperor Akihito visits here, he should not be expected to bow; rather, he should stand erect and shake hands with Obama, because that's customary in the U.S.

That's a long plane ride, and he could have watched a few news clips involving various greetings between Emperor Akihito and other visiting Heads of State. Perhaps he would have learned something. In this case, he just needed to see how the emperor greets others; that's how he should have greeted the emperor -- showing that he believes their positions are equal and that he respects the customs of the Emperor's nation. If anything, Obama just over-achieved on this event, and that made him look foolish in the eyes of those looking for him to look foolish. It did make him look like he needed to study protocol BEFORE a visit, not after he gets raked over the coals by his detractors.

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I would like to know why so many people are getting so bent out of shape for Obama showing respect to another country's leader - get a life people

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Much ado about nothing. What is so terrible about showing respect for a titular Head of State? Obama's enemies are even more numerous that the gaffes they ascribe to him. The conservatives are whacko!

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All the Obama critics are the ones that screwed up America in the first place. We need to get those idiots put them all on their own little island so they wont bother anyone again. Imagine worrying about a human being showing respect to another human being instead of worrying about how to get America our of the mess they made.

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How dare anyone criticize Obama! American Superbower! Yeah!

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Much ado about nothing

Which means it gets round-the-clock coverage on Fox News.

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Obama should not have bowed. Only subjects bow to the monarch. It's not etiquette because Obama did not bow to Hatoyama and other of his cabinet. Head-downing only to the emperor is inappropriate for the US president.

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Genuflection protocols are unique to each country and its cultural bent just does not fit the American psyche which is why it's giving the U.S. such uncontrolled conniptions. It's also a redux of American POW's bowing to their Japanese captors during WWII. Too humiliating. Besides, I believe the Japanese find this behavior somewhat amusing and odd to have Obama bowing as low as he did. I found it a little gauche and know Akihito may have been embarrassed by it all; not impressed. Most Japanese don't expect bowing from foreigners anyway. Bowing is strictly Japanese and nuancical. A simple nod of the head is sufficient enough. Heck, even addressing Queen Elizabeth requires only a simple nod of the head these days followed by the simple word, "Mam" under British protocol rules. Women though are still required to curtsey, but doubt Michelle succumbed to that. So why can't President Obama?

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Foolishness, he was observing the local custom. American's shake hands and Japanese bow. I'm not a fan of the Obama administration buit seriously if the opposition has only these sorts of things to jump on they will be the opposition for the forseeable future. Idiots!

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Besides, I believe the Japanese find this behavior somewhat amusing and odd to have Obama bowing as low as he did. I found it a little gauche and know Akihito may have been embarrassed by it all; not impressed. Most Japanese don't expect bowing from foreigners anyway. Bowing is strictly Japanese and nuancical...

You believe?....may have been embarassed?....nuancical???!!

The Japanese are as accustomed to non-Japanese trying to bow to them as they are with non-Japanese butchering their language and then responding with "Nihongo ojouzu desu ne"... What matters most is your attitude and that your heart is in the right place.

That's an interesting new word you developed. Nuancical....

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He had to bow so low to reach the King's hand! There is no other way to do the Japanese handshake/bow combo with the King!

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Maybe he worries that "too many people think Americans are idiots

LOL. Nice joke for the gloomy morning...:)

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What matters most is your attitude and that your heart is in the right place.

Problem is that it's very difficult to represent the american people when doing something that virtually no american does. It's all well and good if he wants to show respect but I'd only ask that he do so in a fashion that doesn't inflict an unpopular image to the people he represents, because at the end of the day, no matter what it may mean elsewhere, in the U.S a bow is a gesture of subservience and subjugation not of good will or respect.

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I am American and I will tell you very honestly. More Americans need to get off the farm in Wyoming and see some of the world. Too many Americans think that the US is the only place on earth with electricity, food and warm places to sleep. It is this same medieval "I live and die within a 30mile circle" thinking that makes the US weak today.

Obama was exercising polite behavior in respect for a different culture and to the key representatives of that culture. He showed an effort to be international and sensitive to other country's customs. And I respect him for it.

For all you down home Americans out there, get on a plane and go learn about another culture. Believe it or not the world has many other very advanced and beautiful cultures and rituals. And Obama was simply trying to show a little international class.

TheQuestion: I doubt most educated and informed Americans see this as anything serious. After all it is only a few of the rabid right wing that are up in arms over it. And they would be rabid over something anyway. So we certainly cannot see them as remotely representing the sentiments of the masses. And most certainly they do not represent the educated and intelligent masses who care more about results on the international scene that the rabid chirping of a few daft pundits.

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Obama is an Elected official, He is not an Emperor or a King, Part of his duties are to represent the USA in his meetings with foreign dignatories and officials both those elected and in place by birth rights, The USA recognized the value that Japan put on its Emperor post war as a figure head, That was when the USA was strong and wealthy and in a position of power, Now the USA is poor and weak, not to recognize protocol , would be seen as nothing but arrogant, something America can no longer afford to be seen as. Well done Obama, a little bit of humility goes a long way, especially in Japan.

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I doubt most educated and informed Americans see this as anything serious.

I've always been under the impression that the educated and informed knew well enough not to see anything in the news as serious. I simply find that there is a line between respecting a foreign culture and disreguarding the norms of ones own and in the eyes of most americans "such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king's subjects, not his peer".

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With all due respect TheQuestion, I disagree that a respectful bow is so out of line with US custom. I further doubt that anyone, rabid rightwingers aside, consider this bow to be the subservience of a king's subject. On the contrary, most people seem to regard this as little more than an attempt at being polite.

Americans draw too many lines that often leave us friendless and alone when we most need people at our side. If Obama can mend fences and build greater solidarity between our peer nations and the US with a little friendly behavior, then so be it.

This is just another distraction the right wants people focused on instead of dealing with the real issues that face our country. It is utter nonsense and anyone who HAS been off the farm understands that there are many other cultures and showing a little respect for them is a polite and good thing to do.

Maybe it is about time we tossed out the arrogant past and behave with a higher degree of sensitivity and leadership. The ability and confidence to do so represents true power and strength. Being afraid of a simple gesture demonstrates a lack of American self confidence. And maybe that is what the right is exhibiting here.

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I simply find that there is a line between respecting a foreign culture and disreguarding the norms of ones own and in the eyes of most americans "such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king's subjects, not his peer".

Most Americans know that Japanese bow to each other as a form of politeness and respect. This would not be an issue if a Republican president showed that kind of respect to a Japanese dignitary. Certainly no liberal would be taking umbrage at it.

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Is it so bad that the guy whose finger is closest to the button of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world bow to a foreign dignitary a little? If you looked at the pic and decided the guy bowing was weak and powerless for the gesture, you may be a complete idiot! Those of us with functioning brains knows where the power lies, and so do the two people in the picture.

When you are the president in charge of the country that spends half of the entire world's total budget on military spending, then yes sirree, you can afford to make a bow here and there.

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Seriously some people can only see Obama bow but unable to see both people handshaking and the emperor bow.

Obama meet with the emperor in “Japan” don’t forget about that. japanese bow, American shake-hand, people from 2culture try to do both at the meeting. it is appropriate to me.

Some people don’t care what it means elsewhere but only care what it mean in americca even if it is not something taking place at home! so why they ever want to leave America at all. They should just close the country like the Chinese have done long ago and be happy with their own superiority without having to worry about something like diversity, manner, respect, foreigner friend and their culture.

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thedeath. good points.

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American ignorance is bewildering. A bow is the same as a hand-shake (though Obama did both at the same time, quite funny looking), it does not mean deference. I can't believe such morons get air time in the USA - aren't there any clever people left there??

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SebastianFlyte. Sometimes I think most of the best of our country live elsewhere. We can thank eight years of GOP leadership and their reign of terror for that fact.

Thankfully there are many wonderfully intelligent people in the US. We just hear a lot less from them.

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tkoind2. I understand the GOP has done irreparable damage to your country - the whole world knows this. Yes there are wonderfully intelligent people in the US, but without cleverness and street smarts it is wasted.

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tkoind2

Good to see that you are on the ball.

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I disagree that a respectful bow is so out of line with US custom.

That may be true, most of what you said is, however the fact remains that many people, myself included, were put off by it. Many people have stated that the only problem here is the American ego, to that end many beleive that that same American ego has caused many of the problems we have today. To that I heartily disagree, the monolithic ego of the American culture is what drives it forward. Strip it away and all you have is a stagnate pool of wasted human postential. The U.S is built on generations of people trying to one-up each other, trying to be better than your neighbor, your brother, your co-workers even while you work with them. A shot to the ego can cause a whole lot of damage that takes ages to heal. True enough that the President's bow probably didn't mean much but seeing my President, my leader, the one who represents me bowing to a foreign monarch just rubbed me the wrong way.

Maybe it is about time we tossed out the arrogant past and behave with a higher degree of sensitivity and leadership.

I always cringed when people point out the U.S as a world leader. No country should ever try to sympathetically lead another country unless they have significant interest vested in it, not humanitarian intrests, but substantive ones, economic and logistical. Plus being a world leader seems to entail a whole lot of baggage and external pressure that we could really do without.

Being afraid of a simple gesture demonstrates a lack of American self confidence. And maybe that is what the right is exhibiting here.

First and foremost I have never considered myself part of the right. Second I don't see it so much as fear but as loathing. Like when you have to smile and make nice at a divorce hearing or when the company scumbag steals your idea and you can't say anything lest your dempartment must suffer another team building seminar. It made me uncomfortable.

Most Americans know that Japanese bow to each other as a form of politeness and respect.

Irrelevant, show each other politeness and respect by headbutting that doesn't mean you're obligated to do so.

This would not be an issue if a Republican president showed that kind of respect to a Japanese dignitary.

I know I would still be raising hell about it. I hold both parties in roughly equal contempt.

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Irrelevant, show each other politeness and respect by headbutting that doesn't mean you're obligated to do so.

LOL!! Obama wasn't under any obligation to bow. He did it out of politeness and respect. Two qualities which you appear to hold in contempt as you do most other things.

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I can believe the idiotic issues the wingers push in their never ended hate festival of Obama. Such small and irrelevant lives they must live. The bow is not that important.

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Alot of americans dont like the fact that he bowed. To them it doesnt matter if everyone in japan bows to the emperor. To us bowing is something a servant or a person who considers themselves the lesser does.

OK its hard to put into words...but

We bow to no one, no one is our better.Ever.

We like japanese you have accually been one of our best allies. But as much as we respect and like you we will not bow to anyone.

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Here's an historical perspective on these two countries. If one reads Ruth Benedict's classic, "The Sword and the Chrysanthemum", Japan was during WWII the strangest country the US has fought in it's history: Culture and customs, also. Bowing is done by all, whereas in Western culture, bowing is a societal designation between the common and elite. The two perspectives are not compatible. A mere 60plus years will not bridge the gap in understanding an ancient society. Pres. Obama is pragmatic, an excellent study and made an attempt to bridge the cultural divide - he may have made a difference, but the heat from the US still exists.

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We bow to no one, no one is our better.Ever.

Sad when spoken by people who are actually not better than most.

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Yabits i never said we thought we were your betters but ok ill bite. Name one country that has accomplished more in a little over 200yrs of life?

And like i said we dont think anyone is better than us. Why do accept people as your betters?

Moderator: The subject is Obama bowing to the emperor, nothing else. Please stay on topic.

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I think he only want to show some respects to Japanese emperor like as Japnese feel to American presidents. That means he has enough intelligence to understand a diffefence culture. At least, most of Japanese feel some kind of sympathy with him.

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We bow to no one, no one is our better.Ever.

We bow to no one? Wow, as an US member I am embarrased reading that. Do we not bow our heads in prayer? Do we not bow our heads to the departed? Do we not bow our heads in celebration and grievance? We bow, not just to people better or worse but to understand and respect. Or is tolerance not one of our teachings? What our Commander and Chief did was respectible and he was showing good customs and courtesy. Our Leaders here in Japan do it as well as we do salute other military members. There is no difference. Everyone is equal or did you not listen to the President's speech?

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We all know that because Obama is who he is, many eyes are watching and scrutinizing all his actions and gestures with a microscope. But, as many has stated "Who Cares," or shall I say "Shoganai!!!" Maybe Washington will be mad at me for learning some Japanese as an American citizen and critize me for it and JapanToday will post it as BIG news and gain two hundred something odd comments for it.

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The outrage very likely has nothing to do with the bow. Obama has proven himself to be a naive embarrassment in the U.S., so any little thing that comes up is treated with immediate criticism.

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How embarrassing, Americans make a big deal over stupid things??

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Makes our life here in Japan a bit nicer. When a leader of a strong country can be humble, it is appreciated. Who can stand arrogance? Took me awhile but I learned from President Obama. I am thankful for this lesson in humility and in showing respect. I do not think the news media in the US made a big stink out of it. I was looking for that but did not find much.

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One more thing. The picture is misleading. The video tells the true story. Saw the video this morning and it was all pretty harmless and just plain respectful.

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Bowing is a sign of respect since it is a form of politeness to bow.

It demonstrates only two things about the president: he is respectful of other leaders, and he knows protocol.

By reading more into that bow, the naysayers just make themselves look bad, for politicizing the situation.

IMHO Obama has now earned my respect.

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Hahahaha! Didn't Karate Kid already show Americans that everybody bows at the dojo? Nobody dares disobey Mr. Miyagi! Now go wash the car.

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Can't believe this has taken up so much space in the papers but it comes as no surprise that Republican commentators are getting all rabid about it - they have no qualms about stepping right into the gutter to attack President Obama in the hope that something sticks. Obama intended to bow as a genuine mark of respect to a hugely important ally and trading partner - only the Japanese emperor is rather shorter than he expected so he ended up bowing lower and hence it looked a bit more ingratiating than it should've. And to the person who said; 'we bow to nobody' - good grief, that's dumb. As if the US is the supreme world leader (well, in pollution perhaps) - coming after you've just gotten rid of 8 years of the biggest bunch of criminals since Hitler running your country.... some people would say instead of bowing you should be on your hands and knees begging the world for forgiveness....

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So if the Emperor doesn't shake your hand when he visits you in the States, will that cause outrage?

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I think Mr Obama was just showing his normal diplomacy - surely one of the reasons he was elected?

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Yes we bow our head to pray...its god its showing respect. And to the dead again respect.

But in our Culture people dont bow to other people. Heck next time you mess up go bow. You'll embaress the person you do it to if hes like most americans.

Im not saying he shouldnt have bowed to the emperor. Just that to alot of americans bow means you submit.

I have respect for the emperor. If i saw him id bow. Why? because id want to show respect. Why is it different. I dont represent 300 million americans. Are some people blowing it out of proportion? yes.

Look to some it means more than others. To me not so much to others alot. Point is you have no reason to get angry for them at not understanding japanese culture when so many non americans dont understand us. Ok?

Well i like to think of it this way. At least it was a allie this time.

We for the most part are a head on culture. When you meet men and now women are expected to shake hands with a good grip and look into the eyes.

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Since when does the President of the United States bow to anyone? The last time we bowed to a king or emperor was 1775....

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Thankyou finaly somebody remembers why some americans are uncomfortable with the idea the man who holds the reins of the nation bowing to other world leaders. We had a war to stop that.

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"The picture is misleading"

No, it's not. It shows two things:

Obama being respectful to the emperor.

Obama showing he does not know that you don't bow and shake hands at the same time.
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The bowing of the President was proper. Now, if the Emperor extended his hand out to the President, then I believe both were proper.

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So when the Imperial Couple visits the US in the future should Americans be expecting a jesture of humility when greeting the US President in the White house.

Oh the horror....the shock and dismay the People of Japan would feel at such a jesture by their Emperor to a foreigner.

To my Japanese friends please remember that the US was founding principly to seperate the Americans from the British King.

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i think he just lost a contact. no big deal

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