Ishihara’s faux pas over French language spurs suit

A French-language teacher and 20 other plaintiffs sued Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara on Wednesday over his remarks about the French language last year.

Malik Berkane, 46, principal of a French-language school in Tokyo, filed the suit at the Tokyo District Court along with 20 other French and Japanese, demanding an apology over the remarks and 500,000 yen in compensation for each plaintiff.

According to their suit, 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 metro government-run universities and colleges. He was criticizing 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.