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Japanese PM’s adviser apologizes for ‘shameful’ act of keeping hands in pockets on US trip

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A Japanese official has apologized after he was filmed with his hands in his pockets during a business trip to Washington, DC

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara, who serves as an adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, has been heavily criticized online for a gesture considered casual and inappropriate by traditional Japanese standards of etiquette.

The incident happened during Kishida’s first summit with US President Joe Biden on Jan. 13.

As Kishida spoke to the media, Kihara was held in the background with his hands in his pockets. Many in Japan believe that sSuch action constitutes a dismissive attitude and is considered inappropriate in formal scenarios.

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When footage of Kishida’s interview surfaced in Japanese media, viewers criticized Kihara as “shameful,” “disrespectful,” and “arrogant.”

The 52-year-old aide addressed the gaffe during a YouTube livestream last week, where he apologized and revealed his mother saw the comments online.

She reportedly called him to say she was “ashamed” of his behavior and even suggested that he sew up his suit pockets to avoid such “embarrassment” in the future.

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Speaking to Japanese YouTuber Yoshikatsu Ikuta, Kihara described himself as “the kind of person who puts their hands in their pockets and thinks as they walk.”

To justify his actions, Kihara claims that at the time of the incident he was “considering how friendly relations could be brokered at the Japan-US summit talks.”

Kihara is not the only Japanese politician to be criticized for being caught with his hands in his pockets.

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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike faced a similar backlash in 2019 for keeping her hands in her coat pockets to warm her hands in the cold weather. The governor apologized to reporters before facing criticism on social media.


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