Tokyo Gov Ishihara sued for insulting French language
Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 08:01 JST
TOKYO -- A French language teacher and 20 other plaintiffs filed a damages suit Wednesday against Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara for his insulting remarks against the French language last year.
Malik Berkane, a 46-year-old principal of a French language school in Tokyo, filed the suit at the Tokyo District Court, together with 20 other French and Japanese people, demanding an apology over the remarks and 500,000 yen in compensation for each plaintiff.
According to the petition, Ishihara said Oct 19, "I have to say that it should be no surprise that French is disqualified as an international language because French is a language which cannot count numbers."
He made the remarks at a meeting of a support organization for Tokyo Metropolitan University, which opened in April after integrating five universities and colleges run by the metropolitan government, when he criticized university employees who opposed the integration, including those teaching French and other languages.
"After all, those guys desperately clinging to such kind of language are lodging opposition for the sake of opposition," he said.
While his unwitting support for the spoken Frenches of Belgium, Switzerland, and Acadia will doubtless be appreciated by members of those marginalized Francophone communities, I have to wonder what he's trying to accomplish by this and whether people are paying Ishihara too much attention as is.