Why didn’t Japan’s First Lady speak to Trump?

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Akie Abe

Japan woke up with surprise on Friday morning to see the intense scrutiny of its First Lady’s proficiency in English.

It followed US President Donald Trump’s comment, as part of his broad-ranging New York Times interview, that the wife of the Japanese prime minister, Akie Abe, cannot speak any English.

When netizens discovered the YouTube video of her giving a speech in English, however, they went on to speculate that she must have pretended to not know the language to avoid having a conversation with Mr Trump.

His critics treated her as their hero and American media have taken an intense interest in the story. But the truth may not be as black and white.

While the president’s remark that she cannot even say “hello” may be an exaggeration, being able to read a scripted English speech does not mean that one is capable of having a spontaneous conversation over dinner.

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