Japan’s first lady recently became the target of backlash after a photo of her stirring a pot of a famous South Korean rice dish circulated online.
Akie Abe posted a picture on Facebook of herself alongside Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Princess Takamado and South Korean officials stirring an oversized pot of bibimbap during a cultural festival.
The post was met with criticism from some of her 41,233 followers, citing long-standing territorial and historical disputes between the two nations.
Users were quick to condemn the first lady’s presence at the event as “unpleasant” and unacceptable.
“What is this bibimbap stirring? Why are you there? Are you not thinking at all? This is extremely unsightly,” wrote user Atsuko Fujima.
Despite her husband’s hawkish stance on Japan’s territorial claims and geopolitical issues in East Asia, Mrs. Abe defended the country’s ties with its neighbor.
“It seems like there are many opinions, but since South Korea is next door to us, I would like to get along with them,” Mrs. Abe posted a reply on her Facebook.
Mrs. Abe is widely known for speaking in favor of closer friendship between nations. She has also admitted interest in South Korean culture, particularly music and dramas, and revealed that she has studied the Korean language.
The social media-savvy first lady posted that she had seen Caffeine, a Korean musical set in a cafe, sparking critical comments.
“Thank you for all your opinions. I am thinking about them seriously,” she responded. “While I had the choice not to post the fact that I saw this musical, I posted it, knowing I would be criticized. No matter how much I am criticized for being soft, I want all people and all nations to get along.”
By: Maesie Bertumen
Daniel Y. Go/Flickr