President Barack Obama bowed low to Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and then added a number of smaller bows, before lunching with the couple on Saturday.
Obama, who is in the midst of a trip to Asia, went to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo for a rare meeting with Akihito and greeted him in the traditional Japanese manner.
A top Obama aide told Politico.com that the president was following protocol with the bow.
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“I think that those who try to politicize those things are just way, way, way off base,” the official said. “He observes protocol. But I don’t think anybody who was in Japan – who saw his speech and the reaction to it, certainly those who witnesses 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. It was a good, positive visit at an important time, because there’s a lot going on in Japan.”
Earlier this year, Obama was criticized for the way he greeted Saudi King Abdullah at a G-20 meeting. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said Obama bowed to Abdullah, while the White House insisted Obama simply bent over to shake hands with the shorter king.
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