A top adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has apologized after his mother reprimanded him for putting his hands in his pockets after meeting President Biden earlier this month.
Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara was caught on camera after his Jan. 13 visit to the White House with his hands in his pants pockets, staring off into space, and seeming uninterested in Kishida’s remarks to reporters after the sitdown with the 80-year-old president.
After several seconds — and apparently after realizing that he was in the camera shot — Kihara adjusted his trousers and fiddled around with his jacket pockets before striking a more dignified pose with his hands crossed in front of him.
Kihara, 52, admitted in a YouTube interview last week that his mother called him after seeing the viral clip and told him, “I’m ashamed. Sew up your pockets.”
Kihara’s blunder made the rounds on the internet after the Asahi Shimbun newspaper posted a clip of it on Twitter, igniting a firestorm of criticism.
One social media user accused him of having “more attitude than the prime minister,” according to the Guardian.
“What is this guy doing?!” another person wrote on Twitter. “In ordinary companies [he] would be demoted.”
Another user urged Kihara to “quit now,” adding, “the prime minister is interviewing right in front of you, and you have no awareness of being a member of the Japanese government.”
“Seiji Kihara, I’m embarrassed as a Japanese person,” someone else chimed in.
Putting your hands in your pockets in a professional setting is a breach of Japanese etiquette standards.
Kihara attempted to defend himself by saying he is the type “who puts his hands in his pockets while walking” and that he was concentrating on the prime minister’s comments.
“I was thinking of how best to convey the amicable Japan-US relations on display at the summit,” he said in the YouTube interview, which elicited laughter from the other guests.