Japan’s First Lady won major internet points after finding a way to avoid talking to Donald Trump at the recent G20 summit — by pretending not to speak any English.
Akie Abe, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo, was seated next to the controversial POTUS at a dinner on July 8, which marked the end of the two-day summit in Hamburg, Germany, reports the Mirror.
In an interview with the New York Times, Trump explained that he was not able to converse with Mrs. Abe because she doesn’t understand English.
“So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe, who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English,” Trump was quoted as saying.
Pressed by a reporter if it was “nothing, like zero”, he replied: “Like, not ‘hello.'”
Trump further lamented that the evening had been “hard” because the meal went on for “probably an hour and 45 minutes.”
Narrating the awkwardness of the whole situation, he said: “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.”
Trump would later switch seats to be able to sit next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A journalist named Sam Thielman, however, countered Trump’s claim on Twitter by posting a video of Mrs. Abe speaking English very well in a speech to the Ford Foundation.
columnist Jessica Valenti then came up with a theory that the first lady “pretended not to speak English for nearly two hours to avoid talking to Trump.”
The video soon went viral on Twitter, with many users adopting Valenti’s idea and began commending Abe for feigning ignorance of the English language.
The Times’ Tokyo bureau chief, Motoko Rich, tweeted that Trump’s claim was “a false note,” while Daily Beast reporter Spencer Ackerman pointed out that Abe’s husband, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been heard addressing Congress in English, which means “his wife totally knows ‘hello.'”
While it is difficult to find out for sure what exactly happened between Abe and Trump at the dinner, the internet has decided to enjoy the thought that it was simply the Japanese First Lady’s way of dodging some small talk.