For a group of Japanese politicians, what was meant to be a moment of frivolity in France has become a grievous faux pas.

At first blush, a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower hardly seems the stuff of political scandal. It was taken by a group of predominantly female politicians from the Women’s Affairs Division of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. They had traveled to Paris ostensibly to study France’s attempts to boost the birth rate and its education policies. On social media and afternoon news shows, however, the snap was perfect fodder for silly season.

Critics blasted the group for sharing an enjoyable moment while striking a whimsical Eiffel Tower pose; some asked how dare they even be traveling when the country is dealing with inflation and higher airline prices; others questioned the propriety of going abroad at all while heavy rains struck the country’s southernmost main island. The head of the group received a dressing-down from the party and issued an apology.