Japan vs. 'The Silly Shirt Photo'

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Every year, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit brings together world leaders in a Pacific nation to discuss economic cooperation. The annual talks also feature one event, famous among reporters, that has little to do with economics: a photo-opportunity gathering of those world leaders in traditional local garb. What has become known as "the silly shirts photo" has been an annual staple of blogs, particularly the Drudge Report. But the Associated Press' Mari Yamaguchi reports that Japanese authorities, who will host the next APEC meeting, are putting the silly shirts photo to an end:

The 21 APEC leaders have posed for together in Javan batik shirts (Indonesia in 1994), flowing ponchos (Chile in 2004) to Vietnamese "ao dai" — elegant silken tunics in which several of the leaders were visibly ill at ease — in 2006.

But this year in Japan, the leaders were instructed to come in "smart casual" for Saturday's photo, said a government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.

Yamaguchi adds that the "typical tight-fitting traditional kimono is not very comfortable or suitable for a photo session." But Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating is having none of it. He writes, "As a firm supporter of the ritual humiliation of the world's most powerful people, I strongly protest this decision." Keating posts some truly stunning photos from past silly shirt photos. Notably, President George W. Bush is alone in looking entirely comfortable, even giddy, in all of the different costumes. Russian President Vladimir Putin does not.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.