So what about this photo ticked people off?

Regardless of how one chooses to use social media in their spare time, social media is inherently a tool, disseminating information and allowing people to connect from across the world. For individuals with high profiles, it also serves as a way to boost personal branding.

Especially when it comes to personal branding, social media also has a tendency to be a double-edged sword: some posts end up being interpreted as gaffs or as tasteless, only serving as a source of ridicule for the poster.

In the case of former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fumio Kishida, who is currently campaigning to become the head of the Liberal Democratic Party after Prime Minister Abe’s sudden resignation, what seems to be an innocuous photo posted recently on his Twitter has generated friction.

▼ Translation below the tweet.

“I went on break after appearing on a night television segment and discovered that my wife came to Tokyo from Hiroshima to make me a meal. I’m grateful. #fumiokishida #LDPpresidentialelection #snapshot #homemadefood”

The photo stirred Japanese netizens, drawing both comments of annoyance as well as positive messages from fans of the politician:

“She looks more like a housemaid.”

“If I didn’t read the caption, I would have thought she was the hired help or something…”

“This looks more like a photo of a wife acting as a servant for her husband, which I don’t really see the appeal of. Maybe it would have been better to show a photo of them eating or cleaning up after dinner together?”

“I feel like if you want to appeal to people who uphold family values, having a photo of the wife is fine, but her standing like that is kind of strange. I don’t know who is taking this photo, but I hope they can re-evaluate the type of image they’re capturing for the future.” 

“In just one photo, this guy really discloses what he thinks the roles of women should be.”

“I feel like whether she’s sitting at the table with him or standing at a distance, either way is fine.”

“I think it’s great that she came from Hiroshima to Tokyo just to make him a meal. Doesn’t this guy usually make his own meals?”

“Well, I can tell she’s a housewife from the photo, but I don’t exactly get the sense that they’re equals in their relationship.”

▼ Smile, honey, cause you’re going on Twitter!

Frankly, there may be missing context to this photo that the third-party viewer just doesn’t have access to.

For example, if Fumio’s wife just came from their residence in Hiroshima, it could be possible that the reason she is standing away from him rather than sitting down or eating with him is due to social distancing, though judging from the distance in the photo it looks a bit like a half-performed measure. Her posture and the way she holds her hand does come off as a domestic look, but she could also just be appreciating the sight of her husband digging into her homemade food.

Admittedly, however, we’re not able to fully see Fumio’s face in the photo, and the fact that he may have just been dithering on his phone while taking to his wife doesn’t really help in building a positive interpretation overall.

▼ We’ve all been there before, but you know, at least put it down for the photo-op.

Some individuals may think that critics of the photo are looking too deeply into it, but when it comes to the social media accounts of individuals with high profiles, I don’t think it’s that much of a surprise for people to nitpick a photo.

After all, the photo is an attempt to humanize Fumio to constituents. In general, politicians are rather distant figures, and especially for his situation with the upcoming elections, the image his staff tries to creates for him is more important than ever. Because of this, an exacting interpretation of the posted photo isn’t something unwarranted.

On the other hand, the voiced concerns of netizens about the representation of Japanese women is still important, considering how over half of young Japanese women are financially struggling and the hurdles Japanese women of all ages face while on the job-hunt.

Being a housewife is valid, but honestly the roles that women have come to command in the last half century have changed dramatically. Whether or not Fumio will ever acknowledge both this shift and the contemporary struggles women face in politics as well as the workforce is unknown, though I would not expect him to do so in a seemingly premeditated photo-op with his wife.

▼ It never hurts to think about your constituents!

With Abe’s recent, sudden resignation, how his potential successors will proceed to fight for his spot is up to speculation. But if past social media posts from Japanese politicians are to be used as example, such as Abe making the whole nation cringe, we’re certain there’ll be more tea soon.

Source: Twitter/@kishida230 via Jin
Images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3, )
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