Conservatives are calling this "treasonous," and nothing could be more absurd ["Outrage Over Obama's Bow to Japanese Emperor Is Silly," usnews.com]. First of all, the Emperor of Japan is just a figurehead; he isn't a foreign head of state. By bowing low President Obama is showing his humility and respect for the entire nation of Japan, not for a particular government. Second of all, Japan is not the enemy of the United States, and it does no harm whatsoever for us to show respect to this long-time faithful ally. We have a well-deserved reputation for arrogance throughout the world and Obama's act of humility can only help us. The nationalists in this country need to stop being so insecure. Obama is mending fences, not showing weakness.
Comment by Bob of NE
Yes, a bow is a sign of respect, but it depends. A bow can be a sign of respect depending on the stature of the person being bowed to. The American president in his very low bow means he is being subservient to the Japanese emperor. He should have just bowed a little since he is of equal stature, being a head of state, but with his gesture, he acknowledged that the Japanese emperor is higher in stature. Either Obama is too naive and ignorant, or his aides did not give him the proper information, which seems to be the case in this inept administration. Also being too subservient when it is not called for can also be taken as an insult.
Comment by Matthew of NY
It is customary for businessmen in Japan to bow upon meeting their counterpart before going into negotiations. I much prefer a president who shows respect and diplomacy and accomplishes America's goals (in this case more balanced trade policy—helping our economy and jobs), rather than the Republican/Bush approach of threatening, demanding and bullying world leaders and bringing nothing but contempt for the U.S.
Comment by Michael Moriarty of CA
It's just sad to see so many people making mountains out of molehills. Of the things to get upset at the president about, his bowing to a foreign leader ranks at about the bottom of the list. Honestly, this sounds more like people looking for excuses to get mad than something to really worry about. People who are ranting about this can probably find much more productive uses of their time. Oh, and a little lesson for people who don't understand Asian culture—the more humble you make yourself appear, the more respect you get. So Obama's gesture was actually a very wise thing to do when dealing with an Asian leader, yet people insist on ranting and raving about it because he "demeaned" us. Maybe this is why Americans aren't respected much by people in the world?
Comment by Jamie of OK
The only criticism I have for President Obama's bow to the emperor of Japan was that it was much too low. The president's bow should have been higher than the Japanese emperor. In Japanese culture the height of the bow indicates position, importance and rank. In the United States-Japan alliance, the United States is clearly the senior partner. The president's bow should have been higher. I suspect the reasons for President Obama's low bow may either be due to a lack of understanding of Japanese culture or he could have been sending a message to Japan, i.e. although the United States is more powerful than Japan, we are also capable of humility and restraint.
Comment by Bill of CA