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How low will he go? Obama gives Japan's Emperor Akihito a wow bow (Updates with videos, pic)

Democrat president Barack Obama bows to Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko 11-09

(New UPDATE: Monday 5:02 p.m. OK, it's not funny if you work at the White House. But for everybody else a new video at the bottom of this post will provide some chuckles about how the rest of the world chooses to greet the Japanese Emperor. Hint: It's different than President Obama.)

(UPDATES: 12:22 p.m. Saturday. A brief news video has been added below, showing the greeting in this photograph. Contrary to some claims, the video shows no reciprocal bow by the emperor, who traditionally bows to no one. And we've added a file photo from 2007 of Vice President Dick Cheney greeting the Japanese Emperor at the same residence in a different fashion.)

How low will the new American president go for the world's royalty?

This photo will get Democrat President Obama a lot of approving nods in Japan this weekend, especially among the older generation of Japanese who still pay attention to the royal family living in iRepublican vice president Dick Cheney is received by Emperor Akihito in 2007ts downtown castle. Very low bows like this are a sign of great respect and deference to a superior.

To some in the United States, however, an upright handshake might have looked better. (See Cheney-Akihito photo, right).

Remember Michelle Obama casually patting Britain's Queen Elizabeth on the back during their Buckingham Palace visit? America's royalty tends to make movies and get bad reviews and lots of money as a sign of respect.

Obama could receive some frowns back home as he did for his not-quite-this-low-or-maybe-about-the-same-bow to the Saudi king not so long ago. (See photo here)

How times change under Democratic presidents.

Back in 1994 when President Bill Clinton appeared to maybe perhaps almost start to bow to Akihito at a White House encounter, U.S. officials rushed to deny it was any such a thing. And the N.Y. Times chronicled the comedic drama here.

Akihito, who turns 76 next month, is the eldest son and fifth child of Emperor Showa, the name given to an emperor and his reign after his death.

Emperor Showa is better known abroad by the life name of Hirohito. He became emperor in 1925 and died in 1989, the longest historically-known rule of the nation's 125 emperors.

Hirohito presided over his nation's growth from an undeveloped agrarian economy into the expansionist military power and ally of Nazi Germany of the 1930's.

And, later, Japan became a global economic giant. Hirohito, along with Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who authorized the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, were much reviled abroad during World War II.

Historically, debaDemocrat president Barack Obama bows to the Saudi kingte has simmered over how much of a political puppet Hirohito was to the country's military before and during the war.

Even after Democratic President Harry Truman ordered the two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 1945, there were strong forces within Japan that wanted to continue to fight the Americans in the spirit of kamikaze suicide pilots.

But Akihito's father went on national radio, the first time his subjects had ever heard Hirohito's voice, and without using the inflammatory word "surrender," pronounced that the country must "accept the unacceptable." It did.

As the conquering Allied general and then presiding officer of the U.S. occupation, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, decided to allow Japan to keep its emperor as a ceremonial unifying institution within a nascent democracy.

Tojo, on the other hand, was hanged.

MacArthur treated Emperor Hirohito respectfully but, as his body language in this blacU.S. General Douglas MacArthur meets with Japan's Emperor Hirohitok and white postwar photo demonstrates, was not particularly deferential. 

(But then MacArthur was not known as a particularly deferential person, as Truman discovered just before firing him later. But that's another war.)

Akihito was born during Japan's conquering of China and was evacuated during the devastating American fire-bombing of Tokyo, which was built largely of wood in those days.

The future emperor learned English during the U.S. occupation, but, inexplicably, his father ordered that his oldest boy not receive an Army commission as previous imperial heirs always had.

Akihito assumed the throne on Jan. 7, 1989. Within weeks he began a series of formal expressions of remorse to Asian countries for Japan's actions during his....

...father's reign. In 2003, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer.

In 1959, Akihito married Michiko Shoda, the first commoner allowed to enter the Japanese royal family. That was two years before the birth of Akihito's future presidential guest, Barack Obama.

Joe Biden was already 17 by then. But he wasn't a senator.

(UPDATE: Here's a new video assembled by some clever College Republicans at the University of Connecticut. It's even got music and requires no explanation.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty; David Bohrer / White House (Vice President Dick Cheney greets Emperor Akihito somewhat differently in 2007); Reuters (Obama bows to the king of Saudi Arabia earlier this year); U.S. Army Archives (Gen. Douglas MacArthur not bowing to Emperor Hirohito after World War II).

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Nothing new here, obama bows to the Saudi's as well. He just can't seem to man up, and take serious his role in the United States. I really believe it stems from his disgust for the United states. He would not wear the dreaded "American Flag" pin, he refused to participate in a pledge of allegiance, etc... His socialism is showing.

Are we really surprized? The bow was actually lower than this, unbeliveable... Perhaps Barry O should show some of this same respect to the American people - he's pathetic and certainly no leader.

It is against any type of standard that has been set by previous presidents. Bowing to the Saudi king is by far a larger indicment of President Barry Soetoro. Anticipated left-wing response, Bush kissed the ring of the Saudi king, so what does a bow mean? Anyone who has spent any amount of time over seas knows what it means. President Barry Soetoro is attempting a PR coup with the world's "elite" by showing deference and respect. Of course, he has lost all faith and respect with the american public, is still corrupt, a closet communist, lied about so many things there is too many to list, a past he will not reveal--how about letting us read your dissertation, you can read mine, I'm proud of it, so should you be--and a group of friends only Fidel Castro and Nancy Pelosi approves of. Therefore, he will be thrown out in 2012, if not sooner. Then, again, like always, the joke will be on us, the poor and unemployed, for the other group of crooks will take over again. Vote for real people not politicians.

I think Obama thought he was in China, and the guy he was bowing to was Chairman Mao--"thanks for the example and philosophical direction".

When will Americans wake up and finally realize that his guy is doing nothing worthwhile, and simply brings SHAME to our country.

I think Obama thought he was in China, and the guy he was bowing to was Chairman Mao--"thanks for the example and philosophical direction".

When will Americans wake up and finally realize that his guy is doing nothing worthwhile, and simply brings SHAME to our country.

He's not my president. He doesn't and will never represent me and my belief system toward my country. How many times must he prove himself the impostor before people wake up.

Obama represents everything we have fought against for over two hundred years and now we elected him to our highest office. I don't blame those who voted for him for they know no better. Our left wing education system and his propaganda machine created a mindless following enamered by symbolism over substance.

However, his actions are overriding his symbolism... and he has showed us he has no substance. I only hope we will get him out of there in time to save our country.

I think Oblunder needs to go back to charm school and learn when to bow and when to curtsey.

Must have "tripped on the stairs again" just like with the Saudi King. What a disgrace.

I can see how obama got to where he is today. Boot licker---- Yo bama! where's my shoe shine??? Ever the community organizer, how's the Chicago community going??? The man is an embarrassment.

Obama will go to any depth to make the United States look bad, he hates this country and everyday that passes it becomes more and more clear.
He's shameful...

i love how this article went from obama bowing to a foreign dignitary in the first few words to a history of the emperor. why not keep the focus where it should be - the fact that the president should not be bowing to anyone!!!

i will bet he will lick the chinese president's shoes.

We'll be apologizing for this joker for years to come.

Bowbama was not bowing...he was simply admiring the Emperors shoes....

what can i say, this guy hates the rich in the usa but yet he bows to people who have inherited their wealth?

this president is a slimeball communist.

Our nation made a big mistake electing this anti semite, piece of garbage as president.

I think he's priming up for the serious begging he'll have to do in China.

i used to think obama was clueless and these things he did were out of his lack of experience. i no longer believe this to be true.
he is intentionally showing the world where he thinks the US belongs. equal to, or better yet, lower than, other countries. after all, don't you know that we are the true evil in the world?

There is no depth that this man will go to make the US look bad.
He’s absolutely shameful.

This is going to be his un-doing. There is no way the spin-meisters can deny this jerk is bowing this time. He is a total disgrace to the office he holds. Not only is he the first "mutt" president this country ever had, he is also the most absurd.

Just another craven display of obesiance by our prince of fools. He makes the disgraceful Jimmy Carter look positively statemanlike in it 2012 yet?

A new low for the United States of America. Fortunately, most of our heros of WWII are now dead and did not have to suffer this. I feel for those left that must.

Obama does not have any brains. He is the ONLY Pres. that has bowed to other world leaders. This is called, "kissing up". I wonder what Obama is going to give to Japan or is he going to say that the US was wrong in bombing Japan in WW2. Obama is a disgrace to the US.

He might say that Japan was justified for their bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Obama, Pres of the USSA.

I'm glad the President showed the Emperor such respect.

This action will get the insane wingnuts' heads to explode. The sooner they all push their blood pressure up to the boiling point, the better. For the sooner their end comes, the better for all.

Actually, he isn't the picture clearly doesn't show. He is just shaking hands, or whatever lies we were told last time. No worries, all!

Why doesn't Obama just get down on his knees?

What else would you expect of our very own Manchurian candidate? Superficial obsequiousness gilding his molten core of brittle narcissism bound tightly by close held reverse racism (in fact, resentment of all things representing Heartland America... maybe because of Momma Casper ditching him how many times before the grandparents had to step in ?) Apparent every time he fawns inappropriately (inappropriately for one with knowledge and respect for American history abroad, that is) and shows his gluteus maximi to the American people. 2012 can not come too soon. Obama is well into his mission of changing America into the laughing stack of the world, one grovelling scraping apologist bow at a time. Let's hope he doesn't get us invaded in the interim; laughing stock is tolerable but invasion because the Republic is deemed to weak & stupid to defend from an invasion (judging from the behavior of the jugheaded Poindexter-in-chief) would be a tragedy of the highest order.

I'm so happy that that whoever is writing this article isn't advising Obama or anyone else. It's called showing respect for another culture. I don't remember laura bush patting anyone on the back, but I do remember her stepfather throwing up on the Japanese Prime Minister. After bush's son destroyed the dollar, our Int'l standing throughout the world and our infrastructure, there is quite a bit of bowing left to be done. I think I'll take the show of respect and let the author continue with his work. Not sure what that is, but keep it up. don't have to bow to anyone, you don't have to shake anyones hand. You don't even have to acknowlege them upon a introduction. As a matter of fact, just walk up and smack them in the head and laugh if you want. If you are however a person of respect and class you might want to keep your personnel desplays to yourself and handle the situation as....In Rome do as Rome. I respect Obama and his ability to reach all nations with their customs as we want other nations to respect our customs...! It's a bow of respect people....get a grip...not a sign of weakness, but a sign of respect. Thank you Obama for portraying the United States as a RESPECTFULL country...

When will Obama get around to bowing to the American public instead of the rest of the world?

Obama should wear one of his Kenyan skirts when traveling abroad so he can curtsey. I hate to think of our Muslim President prostating himself before the Iranian Ayatollah when he finally travels to Iran to surrender on the nuclear weapons issue. Greg Neubeck

Better yet; why doesn't Obama just pull down his pants and bend over?

What is the matter with him? Even if he is unfit for the office, he should at least act the part.

This bow would be usual for a Japanese citizen, not an American president. A slight lowering of the head with the handshake should have been enough. This bow shows Obama at a place of near servitude to the Emperor.

If we're going to bend over for foreigners, should Obambi be facing the other direction?

Another colossal embarrassment for the U.S. via The Anointed & Chosen One, going WAY out of his way in tearing down our country in front of others, and yet with a straight face can't seem to figure out why Iran thinks he's a feckless piece of milquetoast.


And the "reporter" who wrote this piece seems pretty giddy over the whole thing, which isn't surprising since pretty much all of the MSM is still swooning over The Chosen One.

How far will the President go? I'd say that after both embarrassements with Saudi Arabia and now Japan, The All Supreme Oracle will next crawl on his knees and roll over showing his belly, just as all whelps do in the presense of Alpha Males.

Pathetic. Sad. But oh so very, VERY true.

"A man who reads nothing is far smarter than a man who reads nothing but newspapers." -- T. Jefferson; 1789

all that education and he stills finds a way to look ridiculous over and over again. Please stay in White House and do not touch anything for next 3 years. Then go away.

Bowing in Japan is common courtesy.

Nah, he isn't bowing, he just droped his pen...again like when he met the Saudi prince.

Is there any doubt that Obama is not fit to be president of the United States?
This man has no respect or love for the country that he is now serving as president of. He is a faux president .. fake from his credentials to his policies, to his continual dishonor of our country. If he is not impeached, and soon, we are going to lose what is left of the great republic we once were.

"Very low bows like this are a sign of great respect and deference for a superior."

How much more HUMILIATION must we take from this poser? God I wish Ronald Reagan was still our President, like John Wayne, those men were PROUD to be Americans and didn't show submission to a superior leader........ EVER!!!

The "Apologizer in Chief" just gave a huge slap in the face to surviving WWII Veterans and the children and widows of Pearl Harbor. Yes, we have rebuilt Japan into an economic success, but they are not our Superiors!

What next Obama? Are you going to bow to Osama Bin Laden when he is caught?

What a maroon!

"Hirohito presided over his nation's growth from an undeveloped agrarian economy into the expansionist military power and ally of Nazi Germany of the 1930's."

This is incorrect. This transformation occured during the Meiji Restoration.

(The transformation STARTED during the Meiji Restoration.)

"Hirohito presided over his nation's growth from an undeveloped agrarian economy into the expansionist military power and ally of Nazi Germany of the 1930's."

This is incorrect. This transformation occured during the Meiji Restoration.

Either the man is an idiot or he has no idea on what that bow entails. I am leaning to the latter, knowing that he did the same with the Saudi King. That bow is not the bow of equals, leader to leader, but the bow of a subject.

Cultural sensitivity goes two ways. The other countries must acknowledge US American's right not to differ to class. The Emperor is in office by birth not by the vote of the people of Japan. In one swift move the President has swept away the declared belief that all men are born equal, that is no one has a station in life. This means that each person must earn the respect of others, and not be born into it.
Mr. President it is time to grow up and acknowledge you were voted into office because the country you were born into has changed from the year of your birth. The American people voted against racism rather than for any real policies. During your campaign you never presented any programs or policies to vote for other than we must win in Afghanistan. Could we please at least get on with that?

oh, what was that groaning rumble? My father & all the other folk across the river in Arlington National Cemetery are spinning in their graves. What an embarrassment.

Good Lord, this man is an embarassment.

O is so PC it makes me cringe. He is still (but hopefully not for long) the leader of the most powerful country in the world and he tries so hard to look like he is everyone's little buddy - can someone on his team show some guts and inform him it's ok to act like a president? You DON'T bow! Do it our way: shake hands! I don't care who he is meeting/greeting. He and his team are so amateur and wimpy. I guess he thinks if he goes above and beyond with his show of respect then the Japanese will continue to invest in US markets - he is so amateur. Can we all join together and next time vote for a president who is not afraid to represent America as the awesome place it is? Please?

Is that a hump on the POTUS back?

Quote from the movie "The Bedford Incident":

"Things are geting out of control and someone's going to get hurt!"

(Sydney Poitier to Richard Widmark.) I do not vouche for the total correctness of this quote, but it's darn close. "The Bedford Incident" is not a very well-known movie, but IMHO it's a darn good plot, with excellent acting. (It's a black and white movie in a color age) It has an anti-nuclear agenda but I'll let that pass due to it's attributes.

How disrespectful to this country is he going to become? If that picture does not make your blood boil, then your love and respect for this country and its place in this world is highy suspect, and I, personally, have no use for you whatsoever. I'm sure this means nothing to most of you, so don't waste your time with your name-calling and boiler-plate dem/lib/lefty put-downs. But of course you "just can't help it".

Fire away!!

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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