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Shinzo Abe

Japan PM Shinzo Abe served dessert in shoe, but still ‘enjoyed dinner’ with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu puts wrong foot forward by serving Japan’s Abe dessert in a shoe

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 12:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2018, 3:37pm

A dinner hosted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe last week took an awkward turn when dessert was served in what appeared to be a lace-up leather shoe.

After a day of high-level meetings on May 2, the Japanese leader was treated to a festive meal at the official residence of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu.

It was their second time in Israel, and the visiting couple were served a top-notch meal by celebrity Israeli chef Segev Moshe.

But then came dessert. A selection of delectable chocolate pralines – artistically arranged inside a shiny leather shoe.

The reports came after Netanyahu complained about the lack of news coverage of Abe’s visit by Israeli media.

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The special treat has since drawn criticism from local media as being disrespectful as outdoor shoes are rarely seen inside houses in Japan, as people remove them before going inside.

Israel’s popular daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot wrote Monday that “Japanese diplomats, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials and high-ranking Israeli diplomats who previously served in Japan were shocked by the idea”.

“This was an insensitive decision,” the article quoted one unidentified senior Israeli official as saying. “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.”

A Japanese diplomat, also not named by the paper, said: “There’s no culture in the world in which you put shoes on the table. What was the distinguished chef thinking? If it was humour, we don’t think it is funny; we were offended on behalf of our prime minister.”

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An official at the Japanese embassy in Israel declined to comment, saying it was a private dinner but added the embassy has heard Abe and his wife “enjoyed the dinner”.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was not involved in approving the dishes for the meal.

“We respect and appreciate the chef. He is very creative,” the ministry said.

Segev’s creative side was displayed last May when US President Donald Trump visited Israel. Then, the celebrity chef served up a dessert in the shape of a double-headed Trump and Netanyahu.

On Sunday, Segev proudly posted a close-up photo of the offending shoe-filled dessert on his Instagram account, writing: “Chocolate selection from the world by #SegevArt – – – A metal shoe by @tomdixonstudio”

“The dessert was served inside a sculpture by international artist Tom Dixon, whose works are displayed in major museums around the world and for the first time was displayed in Israel at a meal. This is a high-quality piece of art made of cast metal in the shape of a shoe; it is not a real shoe,” Segev’s publicist said in a statement, according to Yediot Aharonot.

On Instagram, however, some of his 72,000 followers offered a different opinion:

“When you cook at a diplomatic meal, the minimum you can do is inquire about the guest. In Japan, shoes are considered contemptible, they always take off their shoes at the entrance to every home, both for themselves and for others,” wrote one person.

Another person wrote: “you don’t need to know any culture to know that serving shoes at a dinner is WRONG!”

Kyodo, The Washington Post