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Saturday, Oct. 1, 2005
Plaintiffs fume over Ishihara's French slur
By MASAMI ITO
A French teacher suing Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara over his disparaging remarks about the French language said in court Friday he would like the outspoken politician to explain why he believes French is an intellectually defective language.
Malik Berkane, principal of a French-language school in Tokyo, filed the lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court on July 13, along with 20 other French and Japanese. The plaintiffs are demanding an apology and 500,000 yen each in compensation.
According to the lawsuit, Ishihara said last 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 that cannot count numbers."
On Friday, Berkane expressed outrage at Ishihara's remarks. Ishihara "can say whatever he wants in private, but as governor, he should not make such statements on duty," he said.
The governor uttered these remarks during a meeting of a support organization for Tokyo Metropolitan University, which opened in April via a merger of five metro government-run universities and colleges.
Ishihara was speaking out against university employees, including teachers of French, who were critical of the integration.
During Friday's court session, Berkane also pointed out that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government had been streaming Ishihara's comments for nine months.
"It took a lawsuit (for the metro government) to erase (the footage)," Berkane said, adding that Ishihara completely ignored his open letter, which demanded a retraction and apology if the governor did not have any reasonable excuse.