Tuesday 16 January 2018

Hollande's Tokyo gaffe not lost in translation

France's President Francois Hollande with companion Valerie Trierweiler in Japan
France's President Francois Hollande with companion Valerie Trierweiler in Japan

FRENCH President Francois Hollande was left red-faced in Tokyo after confusing his Japanese hosts with the Chinese.

During a press conference Mr Hollande referred to the Algerian hostage crisis in January in which 10 Japanese nationals died, saying he had "expressed the condolences of the French people to the Chinese people."

Mr Hollande, who is in Japan on a state visit – the first by a French president in 17 years – did not correct his mistake.

A quick-thinking female interpreter fixed the verbal gaffe as she gave her simultaneous translation, rendering the sentence as it had been intended.

However, at least one Japanese journalist with knowledge of French picked up on the error.

Relations between Japan and China are frequently testy, clouded by differences over history and coloured by a territorial dispute.

Polls in both countries show distrust of the other nation is rife and neither side's nationals like to be confused with the other.

Irish Independent

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