A Japanese diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Monday that Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, found it absolutely disrespectful when they saw shoes on the dining table in a meal with Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, which came at the end of Abe’s visit to the occupied Palestinian territories on May 2.
“There’s no culture in the world in which you put shoes on the table. What was the distinguished chef thinking? If it was humor, we don’t think it is funny; we were offended on behalf of our prime minister,” said the diplomat, Presstv Reported.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry swiftly sought to sooth concerns about the controversial shoe-filled dessert, saying it was not involved in approving the dishes for the meal but appreciated the creativity of chef Segev Moshe.
“We have the utmost respect for the Japanese prime minister,” said the ministry in a statement, although it would not offer an apology.
Segev, who has already made headlines with his odd way of serving foreign leaders, also defended his choice of filling a sculpture shoe with chocolate dessert, saying the shoe was not real and was made of cast metal, so it should not have been as offending as it has been reported in the media.
Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, however, said the move was a shock for the Japanese premier and diplomats. It said everyone with the least knowledge of Japan’s culture knew that the Japanese never allow shoes inside their houses and offices as they find it contemptible.
“There is nothing lowlier than a shoe in Japanese culture. Not only do they not wear shoes at home, you also won’t find shoes in their offices. This is disrespect of the first order,” said the daily in an article, adding, “Japanese diplomats, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials and high-ranking Israeli diplomats who previously served in Japan were shocked by the idea.”
Online users also reacted to the controversial decision. Some said the chef had to make a minimum of inquiry about the guests and their cultural issues, while others said putting shoes on the table was totally wrong, regardless of which culture the guest belongs to.
“You don’t need to know any culture to know that serving shoes at a dinner is WRONG!” wrote an Instagram follower of Segev under the picture the chef had posted of the meal.