Michelle Obama Breaks Social Protocol in Japan

Michelle Obama Breaks Social Protocol in Japan

Michelle Obama’s trip to Japan didn’t start off too well, as she tripped over a small step while disembarking her limousine and greeting Japanese Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko. During this embarrassment, the press cameras furiously clicked.


Adding further awkwardness is the image of Mrs. Obama — standing at 5’9″ — towering over the diminutive emperor and his wife.

Earlier in the day, the First Lady breached protocol when she attempted a hug-handshake with Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as the Japanese First Lady was trying to bow.


Japanese culture frowns upon excessive physical contact, and bowing has its own strict rules. It appears that Mrs. Obama violated those cultural rules.

It’s not the first time the First Lady has breached another country’s etiquette. In May of 2012 Mrs. Obama put her arm around Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, a woman who typically does not entertain public displays of affection. Rules of Buckingham Palace usually warn against touching the Queen.


It certainly cannot be helped that Michelle Obama’s height and size have appeared awkward in photos. People — and I think especially women — who fall outside a perceived norm of physical size receive attention they don’t want. But does she not receive directives from etiquette coaches, or does she ignore their advice?

However, what bothers me more than the First Lady is her husband’s protocol in the presence of world leaders.

Such as bowing before the Japanese Emperor:

U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko upon arrival at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

And bowing before the late Saudi King:


And before Chinese President Hu (who does not reciprocate).


A First Lady appearing déclassé in foreign nations is one thing. A President who lowers the image of the United States by physically lowering himself in the public presence of world leaders is quite another.

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Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • people who have been received by the queen report receiving a list of do’s and do not’s. So my guess is the Obama’s ignore the protocol of others. Michelle’s preferred ‘Keep in’ it real’ has made them look like hicks and doofuses. As a big woman she might have avoided the garish bright patterns (Look at me! Look at me!) as well which only served to make her hosts blend into the background (maybe they were glad for that). The Japanese must think she is very lacking in manners and etiquette and refinement and they would be right.

  • Penny S says:

    Geeeeez!! Totally low class toadies!! Do they not pay any attention to protocol coaches?!? Do they even have protocol coaches?!? How uncouth and peasant-like can two people be?!? They just repeatedly embarrass us in public!!!

    • J.Marie says:

      Why would you not think two low class elements from the Chicago “establishment” would not embarrass us time and time again? I agree with you though; very peasant-like.

  • J.Marie says:

    Let’s just admit she looks like an oversized…well, I’ll leave that to your imagination. Suffice is to say she should have worn flats.

  • A.Men says:

    Do not insult peasants!

    Insane obomba and moochelle are disgusting, no-class scum!

  • Appalled By The World says:

    I’m sure by now world leaders are used to this sort of uncouth behavior from King Putz and the first gorilla (I know I’m insulting gorillas here but I swear to me she looks like one in that pic ready to eat the emperor). At times I think I might actually hate her more than him-idiots supposedly elected him but nobody elected the gorilla yet she acts like she’s some government big shot. Must be the human attire that creates delusions in her. You’d think King Putz’s handlers would have provided him with a better fake wife than that.

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