Trump’s chat with Japan’s first lady may be a snub

Vivian Salama
Associated Press

Washington — In the world of diplomacy, some things are bound to get lost in translation.

President Donald Trump, who sat next to Japan’s first lady during a dinner at a recent international summit, says Akie Abe can’t muster even a “hello” in English.

In fact, she can handle a basic conversation in English, according to two people who have worked on events with the first lady.

So was something lost in translation, or was there an intentional snub?

In a New York Times interview this week, the president noted that he was seated next to the Argentine and Japanese first ladies at the Group of 20 summit dinner in Hamburg, Germany.

Trump described the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a “terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.”

“Like, not ‘hello’,” the president told the newspaper. “So I’m sitting there. There was one interpreter for Japanese, ‘cause otherwise it would have been even tougher. But I enjoyed the evening with her, and she’s really a lovely woman, and I enjoyed — the whole thing was good.”

But there’s a hitch: Japan’s first lady apparently knows a lot more than just hello.

The Internet instantly responded, with a YouTube video emerging of Akie Abe delivering a 15-minute keynote address in English at a 2014 Ford Foundation symposium in New York.

The Japanese prime minister’s office told the Associated Press that Trump’s comments were based on speculation. Two people who had worked with Akie Abe said she does frequently rely on a translator who almost always accompanies her.