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    What was I just saying about ethnic superiority?

    Master diplomat Shintaro Ishihara, Governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan District, has spread more of his trademark brotherhood among men. I still think that suing in response is silly:

    Twenty-one people including the head of a French Language school in Tokyo have filed a damages lawsuit against Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara over his comment that “French fails as an international language.”

    The group of plaintiffs, which also includes French language researchers, is demanding that Ishihara publish newspaper advertisements apologizing for the remark and pay compensation of 10 million yen.

    “I have a feeling it is aptly said that French fails as an international language because it is a language that can’t count numbers,” he said.

    The governor apparently made the comment on the basis that French counts “80” as “four twenties.” The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, objects to his remark.

    “French can count numbers and it is used as an official language in international organizations and many countries,” the lawsuit says. “(The governor’s) false comments stain the reputation of people who are researching French and speaking it as their native language, and they obstruct the business of language schools by diminishing the desire of learners of the language.

    Now, as anyone who speaks Japanese knows, if there is anything AT ALL that no Japanese speaker should be getting all smug about, it’s counting. I love the Japanese language to death, but please! It has native Japanese numbers, imported Chinese numbers, and about five zillion different counters for different kinds of things. The math scores of Japanese citizens? Rational reason for national pride. The numerical facility of the Japanese language? No. I hardly think Ishihara’s remarks affected language school enrollment, but…just, no.

    2 Responses to “What was I just saying about ethnic superiority?”

    1. Joe says:

      Silly to us, but he seems to get political capital out of saying things like this. I’m not sure whether Edokko actually agree with him on these issues, whether they vote for his sensible policies and accept the silly statements on the side, or whether they keep electing him for entertainment. My bets are on #2.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Heh-heh. People find him amusing, but I also think they like his indefatigable nationalism in a straightforward sense, too. There aren’t many people out there right now shouting, “Japan rules!” It’s galling for a lot of Japanese who love their country to see all the news about demonstrations in China, outrage over textbooks and the Yasukuni Shrine pilgrimages, the setbacks in bidding for permanent UN Security Council membership. People shake their heads at Ishihara and recognize that the specific pronouncements he make are usually, as you say, silly; but I think his Japan-firstness makes them feel better, too.

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