Monday, November 16, 2009

A Meeting of Equals

So here’s the picture of President Obama bowing before Emperor Akihito of Japan. It’s been making the rounds on the blogs. Here’s my take: President Obama should not have bowed. He is the head of state meeting another head of state. This botched bow (when bowing, don’t touch) showed deference so in a sense, America was showing that it was positioning itself in a lower standing to that of Japan. The State Dept. really needs to start briefing the president on proper protocol because he keeps fucking it up. He should have only done what the Emperor could have reciprocated. In this case, a shaking of hands and a head nod would have sufficed.

4 comments:

Kristel said...

I agree. I wonder if it was his intention to be extremely humble. Afterall, it is the 'emperor'... but I still worry about Obama's humility. You're right, the heads of state should be considered equals and with Obama's lowering his head below the emperor's, it means in Japanese culture that the emperor is considered the superior. However, the Japanese also greatly respect their elders... so this could be a plausible and excusable explanation.

It's a good thing that the Japanese tend to be understanding of 'gaijin' oopses. :P

David said...

I understand the respect and custom part but this isn't a normal circumstance.

Kapitano said...

Eisenhower and Nixon did the same thing. And bowing indicates respect in Japanese culture, not submission.

David said...

And they would have been wrong to do it. I haven't seen Eisenhower do it but I've seen Nixon, and the body posture is only a slight tilt, similar to how the Chinese Premier does it. That is more indicative or respect than what President Obama did. As I said, it should be something that can be reciprocated as equals. The Emperor does not do it.