Japanese netizens react to the PR photo with a variety of “helpful” advice hashtags, as well as some hashtags that aren’t very helpful at all.

Recent years in politics have worn heavy on 57th Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with a series of scandals over land deals and an unflattering drawing in his image spreading through the Internet. Sometimes you just have to take a break from all those political missives and order yourself a treat.

This time, his craving for something cold and creamy was slaked by a heaping pile of the classic summer dessert kakigori (shaved ice), and someone was on hand to snap a photo of him taking a bite.

“I’m eating some shaved ice in my home town. This is what summer is really all about.”

Even Abe’s detractors can enjoy his passion for sweet things, as seen in the amusing tag lines on university baseball games about his love of discount chocolate candy Black Thunder. But no one was expecting the reaction to this innocuous photo…

▼ “#IsYourStomachDoingOkayShinzoAbe


Hold on a minute, this reply (and many exactly like it) is just hashtags and nothing else! What’s the deal?!

It turns out that Japanese online etiquette differs from Western Twitter in a few key ways. For one thing, hashtags increase the social relevance of a single Tweet way more than in the West – but also, it’s common for hashtags to include entire sentences or paragraphs and become popular trends, as opposed to Western net users who generally prefer something short and snappy. As you can see just in this lone example, the hashtags become more and more mundane and just plain silly. Don’t worry, there’s plenty more where that came from!

▼ A still-growing collection of bizarre hashtags

While a lot of the early replies were saccharine-sweet advice such as “#EatItSlowlyShinzoAbe“, “#MakeSureNotToGetABrainFreezeShinzoAbe” and “#DoYouNeedASecondHelpingShinzoAbe“, soon it crept into the realm of tongue-in-cheek parody – “#IfYouAren’tHappyWeAren’tHappyShinzoAbe“, for instance, or “#ArentYouGladToHaveSuchKindCitizensWhoWorryAboutYourHealthShinzoAbe“.

One cheeky commenter left a hashtag referring to the 2017 land buying controversy, where Moritomo Gakuen (a school with ties to Abe and his wife, Akie) was able to purchase a valuable piece of land at a high discount. “#DontThinkYouCanHideYourSyrupLikeYouHidTheMoritomoDocumentsShinzoAbe” was followed by a reply from someone imploring “#DontWorryAboutTheMoritomoScandalPleaseJustRelaxShinzoAbe“.

Onlookers were divided as to whether the comforting hashtags were serious or not:

“I loved the comment that asked their own prime minister if he had enough pocket change, haha!”
“What a kind world we live in.”
“[When you read them out] it sounds like a rap song!”
“Everyone really is being too nice to him.”

If the prime minister gets re-elected, the Internet will have to wait with bated breath so see what delicious icy food he’ll be caught with next year. Maybe this cute frosty bear? Scratch that, actually… With all he has on his plate recently, he’s going to need a literal cold one.

Source: Twitter/@ShinzoAbe via Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@ShinzoAbe