Did Japan’s First Lady Pretend She Doesn’t Speak English So She Wouldn’t Have to Talk to Trump?

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Akie Abe, Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images

On Wednesday night, the New York Times published an interview with President Trump, during which they discussed the G20 summit dinner at which he has since been revealed to have had a long, private chat with Putin.

Here’s one curious excerpt, where Trump is describing his experience of being seated next to Akie Abe, the First Lady of Japan. He calls her a “terrific woman,” who unfortunately does not speak any English.

So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe [Shinzo Abe of Japan], who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.


HABERMAN: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?


TRUMP: Like, not “hello.”


HABERMAN: That must make for an awkward seating.


TRUMP: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——


HABERMAN: Hours.


TRUMP: So the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes.

As Sam Thielman of Talking Points Memo initially pointed out on Twitter, that may not be entirely accurate. Because it appears that Abe in fact does know how to speak the language, as evidenced in the below video of her keynote address during a Ford Foundation event back in 2014.

So, did Abe pretend not to know any English so she wouldn’t have to talk to Trump? And even if she’s not entirely comfortable carrying on a conversation for almost two hours, one presumes that, despite what Trump claims, she does at least know the word “hello.”

In any case, who can blame her? We’ve all been stuck next to people we didn’t want to sit next to at a dinner party — at least she had an excellent out.

Did This First Lady Pretend to Not Know English with Trump?