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Wednesday July 13, 12:29 PM
Tokyo Gov. Ishihara sued for insulting French language
(Kyodo) _ 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.
The plaintiffs said the governor's remarks give a false impression that French is a poor language, which is not acceptable by international standards, and brought disgrace to the plaintiffs, many of whom are involved in running language schools.
Berkane said, "I was shocked when I heard his remarks. We decided to file the suit as the governor has not responded to our letter demanding his apology."
FRENCH SPEAKERS SUE NATIONALIST TOKYO GOVERNOR FOR INSULTING THEIR LANGUAGE
Received Wednesday, 13 July 2005 08:27:00 GMT
TOKYO, July 13 (AFP) - A group of French speakers filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the nationalist governor of Tokyo demanding he apologize and compensate them for saying that French should not be an international language.
Twenty-one scholars, teachers and translators, including seven French people who live in Japan, went to the Tokyo District Court accusing Governor Shintaro Ishihara of defaming the language of Voltaire.
The group wants Ishihara to publish an apology in four major Japanese newspapers and give each plaintiff 500,000 yen (4,500 dollars) for "hindering their economic livelihoods," said Miyuki Sakai, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
Ishihara, an award-winning novelist who is known for his politically incorrect remarks, made his swipe at French when he inaugurated a university building in October.
"French is a language in which one cannot count numbers, so it is perfectly normal that it does not qualify to be an international language," he said.
The audience included French professors who opposed his government's integration of five schools to form Tokyo Metropolitan University.
The lawsuit said 180 million people speak French as their mother tongue and that it is "one of the official languages of the United Nations and numerous international institutions".
Ishihara, who has led the capital since 1999, is an outspoken nationalist who believes Japan should be more independent of the United States and stand firm with its Asian neighbors.
He won a separate lawsuit in February filed by women upset when he jibed that women past child-bearing age were "hags" with little reason to keep living. He has also come under fire for using an ethnic slur for Chinese people.
French outraged by Tokyo governor