Tokyo's leader loves France despite jibe
Tokyo's outspoken governor, who was taken to court for a jibe against the French language, insists that he in fact loves France
TOKYO, February 14, 2008 - Tokyo's outspoken governor, who was taken to
court for a jibe against the French language, insists that he in fact loves
France -- and even once had a French girlfriend.
Governor Shintaro Ishihara, known for his nationalist views, said in 2004
that French was disqualified as an international language as it was impossible
to count in it.
Twenty-one scholars, teachers and translators, including seven French
people who live in Japan, sued Ishihara for damages, saying they were defamed
and their careers hurt. A judge threw out the suit.
Ishihara, 75, an acclaimed novelist who majored in French in university,
stood by his remarks in an interview with AFP.
"Even the French ambassador told me he couldn't count in French," he said
with a laugh.
But he added: "I love France. I was really good at French back in the day."
"But I forgot everything," he said.
Ishihara said he had a French girlfriend, who hailed from then French
colony Madagascar, when he was in his 20s.
"She gave me a pistol as a souvenir but now it's too old to be of any use,"
said Ishihara, now the father of four sons including two who serve in
Ishihara said he was friends with French writer Andre Malraux and
philosopher Raymond Aron. He was also the first to translate into Japanese
some of the "Contes Cruels," or "Cruel Tales," by 19th-century author Auguste
Villiers de l'Isle-Adam.
Ishihara was also friends with New Wave filmmaker Francois Truffaut, who
told him that he was influenced by a Japanese film entitled "Passion on the
"I had never heard of it by that title. So I asked him for the rough
outline of the story and found out that I myself wrote the script," he said.
"So I am the forebearer of New Wave," the conservative said with a laugh.