Anime Vice News

Bowing is Serious Business

Obama bows for the Emperor of Japan, pisses people off.


Let’s cut to the chase, President Obama is in Japan, he meets the Emperor and of course bows to him, because that is what they do in Japan. Though it wasn’t a normal, everyday bow, but a deep bow at the waist; the kind you would see from your average Japanophile after buying a hot dog at the local convenient store. Not only that, but he also shook his hand at the same time, a feat of unparalleled multitasking.

As you can imagine, this pissed a lot of people off, like conservative Kristol, as he states, "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." This is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to the complaints this one action has raised. "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.”

Yes, the bow might have been weird and awkward and maybe a little too deep, but really who cares? That’s how people say hello in Japan, they bow! Do you want me to find the children’s book that explains this? It’s right next to the one that tells us that everyone poos. People are really thinking too deeply into this, all because the President of America bowed to an Emperor who has no power, doesn’t mean that America has a smaller penis than Japan (even though Japanese men do have small penises, but that is besides the point.)

Get over it people, there is nothing wrong with making friends.

[Via Yahoo News]
FoxxFireArt moderator on Nov. 16, 2009 at 3:12 p.m.
The Right-wing can be so hypocritical. Former president Bush used to kiss the cheek and hold hands with the Saudi prince when he would visit. He went to first base.
 
Bowing is basically the Japanese equivalent of hand shaking. To not bow is more often considered rude behavior. You don't walk into someone's home and slap them. Also remember these were the same people who got upset when Obama gave the speech in the Middle East and gave the greeting in Arabic. Some people need to get it into their freakin' head that we are a part of the world. Not it's rulers. That's why I hate it when I hear people call the US "God's Country". I had no idea that God was similar to my grandmother and played favorites. That somehow God's love starts and stops the the Mexican-Canadian borders. I can't quite remember where I heard this saying, but it's apt. God isn't on our side. We should be on God's side. Mind you, this doesn't reflect my own personal religious beliefs.
 
Obama's bow was far to steep, but that's a common mistake for someone new. Normally, you bow just as deep as the other.
 
Was that crack that Japanese men having ochinchins really necessary?
giaon Nov. 16, 2009 at 3:24 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt: Let us leave unmentioned the infamous Angela Merkel backrub ;)
 
Everyone's hypocritical in politics. As a psycho liberal myself, I know plenty of hypocritical lefties and centrists.
 
As for bows: I'm sure the Emperor, as well as pretty much any Japanese person who's dealt with a foreigner, is aware that their familiarity with bowing as a greeting is minimal, especially when it comes to things like how far to bow. The handshake-bow combo is pretty common with westerners, though, from what I can tell, especially in a business setting.
 
I do wish that there was less of a feeling that showing *respect* to someone is the same thing as showing *deference*.
AgentJon Nov. 16, 2009 at 3:26 p.m.
I'd rather my president tried to show respect than threaten countries who don't join a "Coalition of the Willing"
FoxxFireArt moderator on Nov. 16, 2009 at 3:53 p.m.
@gia said:
" @FoxxFireArt: Let us leave unmentioned the infamous Angela Merkel backrub ;)   Everyone's hypocritical in politics. As a psycho liberal myself, I know plenty of hypocritical lefties and centrists. "
I know about the back rub. That was weird. I didnt even do that kind of crap in high school. It reminded me of The Breakfast Club.
 
Yeah, I know they are all crazy. I just get disgusted by the Right-Wing's utter contempt for actual knowlegde. It reminds me too much of my A-hole uncle who acts like he knows everything, but doesn't know anything, and he's a Left-Winger. Just a week or so ago the Rep. House Minority Leader pulled out this booklet and said he wanted to read from the Constitution, but what he read was the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
 
Not to mention the Right doesn't have the best track record on civil rights. Hispanics are used as scape goats for the ills of modern society. African-Americans are often treated as second class, and gays are denied the rights to even be in the military. They use the same false evidence that was used against the idea of women being in the military. Currently, there are some who want to remove all Muslims from the military because of one nutcase in Texas.
 
I get rather angry when I ever hear any president, no mater the party affiliation, compared to Hitler. Whenever you do that. You spit on the graves of the people the Nazi's slaughtered. You diminish the true horrors of what happened. Sadly, it's currently become en vogue to compare people you disagree with to Hitler and Nazis.
HeeroYuyon Nov. 16, 2009 at 5:06 p.m.
I'll agree that this whole thing is blown out of proportion, but the argument against humoring monarchs with anything more than a handshake isn't without it's merit. First off, the gesture of bowing or kneeling to any world leader is a gesture of showing they have power over you, and although this is clearly not the case here it still ticks off the gesture analyzing people of the paparazzi who really need to find something better to do with their degrees in body language psychology. More importantly however, the US government has always had a firm sort of "tradition" if you will, all the way since it's inception that when meeting with them to discuss affairs monarchs should be considered as equals at best, which shouldn't be too surprising since we ourselves broke off from an oppressive monarchical rule. Personally I found his overly humble gestures towards the king of Saudi Arabia back in April to be far more offensive and disrespectful than this, but in reality, come on people, you all know he's just doing it to brown-nose them for probably more manipulative reasons.
Karasuon Nov. 16, 2009 at 5:25 p.m.
"They" (the uninformed) don't understand that there's a difference between bowing, and getting down on your knees before someone.
Konandaon Nov. 16, 2009 at 6:17 p.m.

Wow really. Now I don't mean to sound offensive but IMO American politicians/media needs to learn to relax a bit or find some news that's really worth critically reporting on. I can only imagine what they would say if they saw their president doing stuff like this (http://www.youtube.com/watchv=ER2eZ6CwPP4&feature=related) or (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVAKYsHo5-s&feature=related) or maybe this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-bHMCUYIOY&NR=1 )  and I know President Obama has some nice basketball skills but how about Beatles songs? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOt2Qp0H9G8 although to go with that hypocritical bit this is hypocritical in the Conservative Parties disdain for Gala events and spending on Arts & Culture which makes me sad.)
 or from a past prime minister (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiCle1Vk4Sg&feature=related  ) None of the above links being critical reporting of course because well there just isn't a story there just mostly good old satire, which is funny, while having a subtle or not so subtle message there.

In case I offended anyone I'm sorry and I direct you to this apology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uApZuZ6RPy4&feature=related    *BTW j/k it's just the opportunity for that joke was just right.

N15PCAon Nov. 16, 2009 at 8:04 p.m.

@FoxxFireArt said:

"The Right-wing can be so hypocritical. Former president Bush used to kiss the cheek and hold hands with the Saudi prince when he would visit. He went to first base.  Bowing is basically the Japanese equivalent of hand shaking. To not bow is more often considered rude behavior. You don't walk into someone's home and slap them. Also remember these were the same people who got upset when Obama gave the speech in the Middle East and gave the greeting in Arabic. Some people need to get it into their freakin' head that we are a part of the world. Not it's rulers. That's why I hate it when I hear people call the US "God's Country". I had no idea that God was similar to my grandmother and played favorites. That somehow God's love starts and stops the the Mexican-Canadian borders. I can't quite remember where I heard this saying, but it's apt. God isn't on our side. We should be on God's side. Mind you, this doesn't reflect my own personal religious beliefs. Obama's bow was far to steep, but that's a common mistake for someone new. Normally, you bow just as deep as the other. Was that crack that Japanese men having ochinchins really necessary? "


The reason why Bush head the hand of the Saudi Arabia king Fahd is that is was 80 plus years old and was very sick at the time and he would have felt over if he didn't.  The left would have killed Bush on that one.  Fahd died in 2005 by the way.  The kissing thing I don't know.  I though that was more of a European thing.
 
Heres a fair article on the matter from ABC news on the Obama Bow.  

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/11/on-president-obamas-bow-to-the-japanese-emperor-an-academic-friend-writes-that-both-the-left-and-the-right-are-wrong.html    

giaon Nov. 17, 2009 at 7:50 a.m.
@HeeroYuy: But in Japan, the gesture of bowing is NOT necessarily a sign of deference. Two equals bow to each other to greet. If you're a boss, your employee will bow to you-- but they will bow slightly deeper than you would to them (you may just incline your head slightly while they bow very slightly at the waist, etc). 
 
I think CNN's article that @N15PCA linked to has it right-- Obama was trying to be multicultural, but failed because like so many foreigners in Japan, he doesn't have the bow ingrained into his awareness in such a way as to be able to know how much or little to do it. A bow more like the one on the right in this picture would have served him better. As the president, he might have been fine doing just a slight head incline instead, even, since it looks like the emperor (as is custom, I'm sure) did not bow at all.
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