At the last G20 Hamburg summit, President Donald Trump sat next to Akie Abe, and said that the Japanese First Lady was so inept at speaking English that she did not even say “hello”, in an interview with the New York Times, dated on July 19, which turned out very controversial. The Anlgo-American media argued against him, and quite a few of them said Akie was cautious enough to avoid unexpected troubles if she speak something to Trump (”JAPAN’S FIRST LADY AKIE ABE MYSTERIOUSLY COULDN’T SPEAK ENGLISH WHEN SHE MET DONALD TRUMP AT G-20”; Newsweek; July 20, 2017).
Nevertheless, it does not matter so much, whether someone speaks English well or not. Rather, it is more problematic to shame someone in public, particularly a First Lady of a country. The media around the world, notably those of Anglo-American, should have talked about this. In ant case, Trump is so shameless as to enjoy locker room talks in public spaces, and therefore, it is quite unlikely that he cares how anyone whom he mentioned feel about what he says.
Among the US presidents from both parties, Trump is extremely illiterate in world history and culture, and I do not expect him to understand traditional Japanese compassion. However, I have to tell that Trump’s remark is quite unfavorable in terms of Western moral and ethics. Nevertheless, he has believed “only those who makes money is the winners of the society”, throughout his life, and thus, he may not give any consideration to gentleman-like behavior and presidential dignity.
However, we should not dismiss that his Slovenian wife Melania was scoffed for her foreign accented English when she gave an endorsement speech to him during the campaign. It was his supporters who reacted vehemently against that. In view of this, I would have to think that Trump’s utterance to humiliate Akie in public for her English implies that he does not love his own wife.
Furthermore, I suspect that Trump thinks lightly of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe deep in his heart. Abe rushed to meet Trump before his presidential inauguration, and he played golf with him after the inauguration. Trump turns cheerful when someone praises him like this, as also seen in the cases of Chris Christie earlier in the campaign, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions until he changed his mind in view of increasingly robust probe on the collusion with Russia. But we cannot dismiss Trump’s disrespect to Japan. Therefore, Japanese opinion leaders should protest strongly to Trump’s rude remark to Akie.