Mistranslation of Abe speech puts PM in hot water

In Other News - February 5th, 2014

An interpreter got a dressing-down over his translation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s remarks during talks in Davos wherein he compared Sino-Japanese ties with those of Britain and Germany on the eve of World War I.

Japan’s foreign ministry said Abe’s comments during an international press conference at the World Economic Forum last month were somehow lost in translation. The ministry cautioned the private interpretation firm and the translator over the confusion.

Abe was quoted by major media as drawing comparisons between current Japan-China relations and those of Britain and Germany before the First World War. The comment was criticized as “inflammatory” while China rebuked the remark as “anachronistic.”

However, the transcript of the Japanese speech does not contain the phrase.

Abe, asked about the possibility of conflict between Japan and China, had replied: “This year marks the 100th year since World War I. At the time, Britain and Germany had a strong economic relationship, but they went to war. I mention this historical background by way of additional comment,” according to an AFP translation.

“If something like you suggest were to happen, it would cause serious losses to both Japan and China, but also cause significant damage to the world. We must ensure this will not happen.”

The Asian economy giants are at loggerheads over a bitter territorial dispute in the East China Sea, interjected with historically rooted animosity.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: CSIS/Flickr