I am, of course, *loving* how US conservatives are going crazy over Obama’s bowing to the Japanese Emperor. How dare he show respect to the titular leader of a foreign country?! Never mind how W walked hand-in-hand with the Saudi Arabian royal petro dealers or cozied up perched on their arm rests.
Obama playing nice in Japan and currying favor in Chinese signals a shift from the aggressive unilateralism into a new era where the US must please and satisfy the purchasers of our ballooning Treasury debt. The sexual undertones add to the political realignment of new roles and possibilities.
As others have noted, Obama was poorly prepared for his meeting with Japanese leaders. You do not bow while hand-shaking. It is either/or, or at the least bow-then-shake.