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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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I think Obama overdid the dramatics! I bow of the head would have sufficed. Is he next going to apologize for WWII? He is the Apologizer in Chief.

Maybe he's trying to borrow money and wanted to get a really great grovel in to seal the deal.

These two men are at the least on equal standing so President Obama is not required to bow. This was inappropriate. The President did not place himself in a position of respect but rather submission.

Did Akihito return the greeting to our emperor?

Disgusting. But then, what do you expect from a Communie?

A lot of Americans died so that none of us would ever have to bow to royalty. It might be seen as respectful to the royals countrymen, but's it's offensive to obama's own.

Anyone who points out that bowing is a greeting in Japan, and is the equivalent of a handshake, misses the point entirely.

If Obama and the emperor were bowing to each other as a greeting, there would be no problem with it. But here, America's HEAD OF STATE and HEAD OF GOVERNMENT is bowing to a foreign leader, and isn't getting a bow in return.

Americans fought a war 230 years ago so that we wouldn't have to bow to any foreign king. We fought a war 65 years ago so we wouldn't have to bow to a Japanese king. As an American, hold your head high. You're a free man!

I can bow, you can bow we can follow everyday normal courtesy and protocol because when we visit Japan we aren't their to represent anyone but our individual selves. Presidents, like our flag, do not bow to anyone. The President represents the United States no matter where he is- and in our culture you don't bow to people because of our history. The president doesn't have to adapt to Japanese culture. I wonder what the apologists would say if someone threw shoes at him when he visits Iraq. Well, at least he isn't trying to hold hands.

guess he could of did a George Bush and vomitted on him.

Well at least he didn't puke on him.

The dumb masses (tea baggers) will never understand that this is a gesture of respect and tradition, and not submission. But again we can not blame them(tea baggers) as they have extremely low IQ levels. As we already know they are besides themselves to see a black man in Whitehouse.
Do you all remember Bush W. holding hands while walking with the Saudi King at his ranch in Crawford, But that was acceptable by right wing nuts because that looked like a love affair with the oil money. Even after the fact the the most of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia.

How disrespectful of the President. He should have knelt down and kissed the old guy's feet. Then he can come back to America and continue to kick the American people into the curb of authoritarian servitude. He's not kissing the hands and bowing to the feet of tyrants in Saudi Arabia and Japan for nothing - he's showing us by example what he expects of the American people.

Remember - Subjects bow
Obama is a fool

Seriously, who cares. He was just being polite. Politeness is bad? Is the American President above holding open a door for someone or pulling out a woman's chair? That would be "beneath" him, after all? The USA has REAL problems yet we waste words on this?

It's easy for BO to bow. He lacks a backbone.

Just another example of how little this person understands about how and why our country was founded. Our people were NEVER to be subjected to another human being. That's why our founding fathers wrote "all men are created equal". As for me and mine, we will never bow or kneel to another human being - only to our God. Every human being can be respectful without bowing or kneeling or bowing the head to another human being.

I can not believe it has come to this. The President of the United States should never bow to another leader! Unless President Obama is running for the President of the World then stand up straight Mr. President and honor those who have shed their blood so you can travel the world in saftey. And by the way, come home and do some WORK!

Why don't he just hand over the keys to the Whitehouse.

Obama's used to that view from all the time he spends shining Rahm Emanuel's shoes...

notice nothing on cnn about this. they are waiting for FOX to say something then they will count their comment. LOLIYF

This Radical "One World Government" madman is deliberately weakening our country politically and economically while systematically giving away our sovereignty.

Obviously, a majority in the US don't know his agenda, as he has "cover" from the left media here. He hides his agenda, because he knows his plans would so enrage the public that he'd be COMPLETELY rejected. He won the Presidency on colossal lies - with the help of the media. He's no President. He IS the best "front man" for the biggest fraud/conspiracy in the history of civilization.

He must be stopped at all costs; and we will.

Well considering how much U.S. those Japs just bought, from this bankrupt once great nation, maybe the bow aint such a bad idea, maybe, he can put on a little red outfit and hold the emperor's horse too.

Jack Smith, and Byrd, I really feel badly that there gutless people, like the two of you, in this country. No President of the U.S should ever cow-tow to anyone. Before Obamanation, we were the greatest country in the world. Now we are the laughing stock of the world. How sad. How did so many people get hoodwinked into voting for this fool? Was it his view that....This is the greatest country in the world, and I need you to help me change it...? I mean "change" was (and still is) his mantra. I am so sad.

Another non-issue and opportunity to obfuscate, criticize and otherwise display narrow-mindedness.

If someone hates alone in a forest, will anyone feel it?

not posting comments until approved by the author - in a country where we are used to have free speech
how classless

This is a common custom among experienced community planners. Give OBAMA a break, he's in way over his bowed head!

He is not bowing out of respect like some might believe. He is truly licking the boots of foreign leaders because Obama is currently BEGGING foreign nations like Japan and China to continue to buy US Treasury bonds. He is bowing because he is "desperate". I believe he knows exactly what he is doing and intends to let the US continue to decline. If China and Japan stop buying US dollars then it is the end of the line for the US economy. Sure their economies will be hurt really bad too, but not nearly as bad as the US. US Treasury notes known to the dumb masses as dollars will be worthless if Obama cannot convince Japan and China. You have to remember though that Obama has a lot of clout now because not only is he President of the United States he is also the head of the UN Security Council (Unconstitutional btw). If you ask me if Obama is smart he will just let the US economy collapse and use his spot at the UN to govern the US from remote due to his failures abroad that will make the United States unsafe for high level political figures. Hey and the best part of all this is that once the US has collapsed economically it will also lose all of its pull internationally and the UN will have ALOT less resistance when they are expanding their powers. Hell the IMF could expand if they wanted to as well. Perhaps the Copenhagen Treaty will also be signed and they can legally tax every man, woman, and child on the planet for breathing. Man I am excited for the future. It sounds amazing. Thank you Al Gore for saving us from global warming. The World Order will be a better place because of you! :(

Those who say "no biggie" have never lived in Japan, as I did for years. Obama has not only made a very big fool of himself, he will be regarded as a bit "weird" by the Japanese, who do NOT expect foreigners to bow, even to their emperor. The reason is, we gaijin don't know the protocols as to who bows to whom, how low to go, and a host of other do's and don'ts that Obamao has just violated. Just for starters: you don't bow and shake hands at the same time. It must have been a very, very awkward moment for the Emperor and Empress. It certainly is a cringeworthy one for proud Americans, most especially heads of state, who do NOT bow to royalty. What a yutz this guy is!

This empty suit pulls us even further into the abyss. The damage he is doing will take years to fix. He's out carter'd carter. And in such a short time. This is what happens when the electorate votes in a guy with meaningless phrases and no experience whatsoever (ACORN community activist on his resume is a BAD thing).

The leader of the free world should not bow to anyone!

If I were black I'd be plenty upset with this Uncle Tom, he looks like a slave bowing before his Master.
As an American I hate to see our so-called leader bowing before anyone. A polite handshake would have sufficed just fine.

If I were black I'd be plenty upset with this Uncle Tom, he looks like a slave bowing before his Master.
As an American I hate to see our so-called leader bowing before anyone. A polite handshake would have sufficed just fine.

Is there anyone that man will not bow down to or apologize to except the American taxpayer?

Who is prepping this guy for state visits? Must be a mole from the other side hoping for the dufus factor to set in. Well, it has. Obama is looking dufus and dufuser.

actually,He should've shook his hand FIRST...
then without physical contact,bowed..
the actions are westernalised(sic) to bow and shake their hands. you do one or the OTHER,not both at the same time..
that said,considering his position,stature, and age,it was an appropriate depth of bow.
but for another leader of state,to do it like this wasnt correct protocol

Wow. An American president following protocol and showing respect for foreign cultures and traditions. Yes, now THIS is something you must all be ashamed of. Hurry! Denounce!!Seriously? You don't have bigger issues to deal with in your country?? A president out trying to repair your nearly valueless international currency and credibility by doing what every respectful international leader does?? Grow up, morons.

Even I remember my grade school lesson long ago that the servant must bow at least lower than the head of the master, and the lower the person's social class the lower the bow. What class does this make Obama? Duh!

What's worse is him looking at the ground. When is comes to peer class, isn't said that you shouldn't break eye contact. Typically, the head tilts to the side in order to retain eye contact, similar to the motion the emperor is making. Not clear on this one.

What do you bet the emperor is a bit embarrassed for Obama.

What an incredible embarrassment. 2012 can't come soon enough.

The reason he is bowing I believe is, because he would love to have people bowing to him someday. That is his objective he wants to be king of the world.

He is a joke, and he has made us the laughing stock of the world. I hope all that voted for him just own up to your mistake and don't do it again in 2012. Why can't people see what he is and what he is trying to do to this country. He is soooooooo over his head in this job. Did anyone noticed after he won on election night, the man looked gray the color was gone from his face. He must have thought OH S--- I got the job now what the hell do I do with it. Being president of the US is not a on the job training position.

Obamer, thee Shoe-Licker in Chief.

That wasn't a bow. He was just bending over a little so he'd be at the same level as Akihito, just like he did with the Saud. Or maybe he was commenting on Akihito's shoes? Yeah, that's it! BO: Nice shoes your emperorship! EA: Thank you Barack. I got them at Macy's. BO: Can you help me straighten up? I seem to have slipped a disc.

"but bowing before "kings" and "emperors" is an insult to the heritage of our own country "

Precisely!

By bowing to a foreign leader, Obama is placing that leader HIGHER in importance than himself!

INSANE.

President Obama only humiliates himself when he hoists a military salute to soldiers, dead or alive, because he has never committed himself, in principal or practice, to the rigors or sacrifices of military life. Bowing exceptionally low to the Japanese emperor or any foreign leader indicates inferiority. His fawning attempts at self deprecation instead reveal his inexperience and lack of character. Those attempts at self deprecation are essentially egocentric in purpose and nature, reducing the stature of both the man and the office.

in japanese culture bowing that deeply is a sign of embarrassement, as in you did something to bring disrespect to the person you are bowing to, which is typically a superior. nice one obama!

Dominik Schenk,

Sniffing butts is standard social behavior among dogs. Does that mean he should follow that protocol when he greets the recent addition to the first family?

It is totally inappropriate and embarrassing for an American president to kow tow to the Japanese Emperor regardless of the circumstances. Obama needs to know he is just not a community organizer anymore but is supposed to be our president. Where is his honor and dignity? Fortunately, he didn’t bring Barney Frank with him or the Emperor might have had his rear end kissed literally as well as figuratively.

Humm..me thinks he gives off all indications of being a true "teabagger"..like one who is used to being on his knees. Not a "so called" right wing bagger, but the traditional one. Woe is us..

well next step...."obama on his kness"! what a disgrace!

Maybe Obozo should kiss their feet next time to show respect and win friends around the world. Don't be like that cowboy Texan who thinks the President of the United States is equal to other world leaders. Only by bowing and groveling to others can we win their admiration.

 
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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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