Photos of Group of Seven leaders sitting on a guardrail at the Itsukushima Shrine, during the recent G-7 summit in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, drew widespread criticism online.
One of the viral photos, posted by Ken Moriyasu, a correspondent for Nikkei Asia in Tokyo, shows French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak perching on a guardrail at the shrine while the Chief Priest, Motoaki Nozaka, speaks to them.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and U.S. President Joe Biden are seen standing next to the seated leaders at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“So much for shared values,” Moriyasu captioned the photo.
In quoted tweets and comments, Twitter users were quick to call out the seated Western leaders for lack of “respect” and “protocol” — saying they should know better than to sit on a shrine.
“A No No for Japanese certainly. The foreign guests didn’t know it and the host’s protocol ppl forgot to remind them?” William Wei, a reporter from the South China Morning Post wrote.
“Us Japanese get called out in Italy for touching valuable artworks, but our shrines are just tourist attractions,” another person wrote.
“I can’t help but notice that those who are standing are in their 60s and above while those sitting on the guardrails are Gen Xers,” one user pointed out, as it appeared that the three youngest G-7 leaders were the ones sitting.