Don’t Be Koi. There’s Something Fishy About That Trump-Abe Photo

November 6, 2017

Perhaps a metaphor for East meets West? The patient, tradition-bound Japanese prime minister contrasted with the brash, abrupt American president.

But there’s a bit more to the story.

As part of a welcoming ceremony, President Trump stopped with Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe to feed the koi fish at a pond on the grounds of the Akasaka palace in Tokyo. It’s a tradition with foreign dignitaries.

In the photo above taken by Agence France-Presse, the two leaders can be seen judiciously spooning out the fish food. But Trump soon appears to lose patience and summarily dumps the entire box of food into the pond, as can be seen in the next image taken by an Associated Press photographer:

The Japan Times writes:

“The incident triggered censure on Twitter, with many pointing out that fish cannot consume such a large amount of food at one time.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, standing just behind Trump, appeared to break out in laughter at his boss’s no-nonsense approach to koi feeding.

But some uncharitable Twitter users were less forgiving, with several writing: ‘Trump can’t even feed fish right.'”

But, if you watch a video of the event, it becomes clear that Abe himself “dumped” his box first. The whole fish-feeding episode begins at about 33 seconds into the video:

Either way, as cultural faux pas by visiting U.S. presidents go, it would be difficult to compete with President George H.W. Bush “vomit incident” at a state dinner with then Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa in 1992 or President Obama bowing to Japan’s Emperor Akihito during a 2009 visit to Japan, which sparked controversy among conservative critics in the U.S.

Upon meeting Akihito, Trump opted for a handshake.

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