Donald Trump greets Japanese Emperor Akihito without bowing

Donald Trump shakes hands with Japan's Emperor Akhito as first lady Melania Trump speaks to Empress Michiko: AP

Chris Baynes   |  The Independent

US President Donald Trump greeted Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Monday with a genteel handshake and nod, but no bow, avoiding the pitfall that led to criticism of his predecessor Barack Obama.

Mr Trump, wearing a suit and tie and his wife, Melania, in a long, dark blue dress, were met at the palace entrance by the royal couple, both wearing suits.

The President smiled, shook hands and nodded at the 83-year-old emperor before greeting the empress.

The four entered the palace where they chatted through interpreters in footage aired live on television, but without sound, as is customary.

After the meeting, the leaders shook hands again, and Mr Trump tapped the emperor’s arm repeatedly with his left hand.

“Thank you for the great meeting”, the President said to Akihito. “I‘m sure we will meet again”.

Bowing is considered an important symbol of respect in Japan.

But former US President Obama came under fire after meeting the emperor in Tokyo in 2009 for what critics back home said was bowing too low to Akihito. Some US commentators said the he should not lower his head before foreign monarchs.

Mr Obama also faced criticism from a different quarter – etiquette experts – who noted he combined a bow with a handshake, which is not traditionally done in Japan, whether meeting the emperor or anyone else.

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