News outlets are all buzzing about President Trump’s assertion that the wife of the Japanese prime minister doesn’t speak English.
The moment his comments were published by The New York Times, reporters scrambled to find a video of the woman giving a halting speech in English and surmised that the Japanese first lady didn’t really want to talk to him, so she was faking it.
“So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe, who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman but doesn’t speak English,” he said of Akie Abe, wife of Japan’s Shinzo Abe, in an interview with Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
Trump was talking about a dinner at the G20 summit, which made headlines after it was reported that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a second, undisclosed time.
Here is the exchange between Trump and Haberman regarding his non-communication with Akie Abe:
Haberman: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?
Trump: Like, not “hello.”
Haberman: That must make for an awkward seating.
Trump: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——
Trump: So, the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes.
Later on, Trump said that he was able to speak with Abe through a translator. “But I enjoyed the evening with her, and she’s really a lovely woman … and I enjoyed — the whole thing was good,” said Trump.
On Thursday, the YouTube video that showed Abe giving a 15-minute keynote address in English at a 2014 symposium on coastal resilience in New York was plastered all over social media posts. Those who wanted to believe that she must have faked not knowing English even declared her a hero on Twitter.
Akie Abe is my new hero. pic.twitter.com/WEnjBsrRQ3
— Sam Thielman (@samthielman) July 20, 2017
I'm making a donation to a human rights organization in Akie Abe's honor. This is completely brilliant. https://t.co/evy7z3SnbU
— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) July 20, 2017
the whole internet loves Akie Abe, the wife of Japan's hideous PM *30 seconds later* we regret to inform you she sponsors fascist nurseries pic.twitter.com/rSbFhkKQ87
— Dan Howdon (@danielhowdon) July 20, 2017
The headlines have since been nonstop, for example: “Japan’s first lady Akie Abe mysteriously couldn’t speak English when she met Donald Trump at G-20,” a Newsweek headline stated.
“Trump says Japan’s first lady doesn’t speak English — but this clip shows otherwise,” according to MarketWatch.
Now, everyone wants to know how proficient Abe really is in English. Most experts say that she certainly wasn’t dissing Trump. In fact, anyone who has ever been faced with speaking a foreign language in a social setting knows that it’s not easy. In addition, Trump stated that he was able to communicate with her through a translator, so it is inaccurate to say that she didn’t say a word to him.
Was Trump exaggerating when he claimed that Abe speaks “zero” English and doesn’t even know the word “hello?” You decide. But in watching the video there is no question, her English is very choppy, at best.
Below is the video that has gone viral of Abe giving a 2014 keynote address at the Ford Foundation in New York:
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