JAPAN: Hands in the Finger Bowl

The legislative manners of Japanese lawmakers are often a source of astonishment to their Western counterparts: in the course of debate, insults are shouted, desks banged, and the presiding officer may be subjected to physical assault for an unpopular ruling. This week, as 550 legislators from all over the world and their wives gathered in Tokyo for a meeting of the international Inter-Parliamentary Union, Foreign Office protocol experts were tactfully urging Japanese lawmakers to study a specially prepared booklet called Collection on Etiquette, intended to familiarize them with the inscrutable manners...

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