Mayor Ishihara Thinks the French Can’t Do Math

It is usually pointless to pay any attention to whatever offensive comment Shintaro Ishihara manage to spew with regularity, seeing how he makes little secret of his goal to alienate about every single non-Japanese human being on the planet. The fact that he is the Governor of the greater Tokyo area makes it all the more pathetic.

His last display of xenophobic moronism, though, did manage to make me laugh in disbelief quite a bit.

During a speech at the Tokyo U-club, Japan’s most uninspiring buffoon declared (approximative translation, courtesy of yours truly, so don’t bet your life on it):

都立大にはドイツ語やフランス語の教員はいっぱいいるのに学生は数人またはゼロ。[…] フランス語は数を勘定できない言葉ですから国際語として失格しているのもむべなるかなという気がします。

At Tokyo Metropolitan University, while there are numerous German and French teachers, there aren’t that many students. […] Because French is a language unfit for number manipulation, it is perfectly normal to contend that it cannot be used for international communications.


A langage such as French, that is not the least useful

Public declaration at the Tokyo U-club (video)

The reason behind this sudden bout of linguistic imperialism, quite ironic from someone whose language is probably one of the least spoken among emerging countries, was some justification or other for his plan to make foreign language education an ultra-low priority at the rather prestigious Tokyo Metropolitan University.

I’ll leave it to the deeply offended local French community to express their indignation and argue their case for the importance of French in the business world. Though I suspect these geopolitical considerations aren’t much on the mind of the average middle-aged Japanese housewife when she opts to go learn about the language of love and cooking at her local Nova branch.

His asinine theory regarding the incompatibility between French and Calculus, though. This is gold. I mean, you must have skipped quite a few math classes yourself to so blatantly ignore the fact that a significant portion of the past three centuries’ mathematical history was written by German and French guys…

One only needs to look at the suspiciously French-sounding names behind half the theorems to realize that. Believe me: I should know… If there is one field the French have always excelled at, it would have to be abstract mathematics (that and going on strike).

While you could expect that “French is so romantic, it’s the language of love” tripe from some excitable teenage girl, you would be entitled to a more educated opinion from a veteran politician pushing a university reform. Then again, this poor excuse for a populist mop-head has built his career on this kind of drivel.

Anyway, I’m all too aware that going to such lengths of scrutiny when dealing with Ishihara is about as meaningful as berating a monkey for his poor command of Kantian dialectic, but it was just too stupid to let it go without a note.


  1. Any reason, logical, political or just xenophobic, for the Mayor of Tokyo to take such a bizarre stance ? Does making idiotically rude and incorrect statements about the French language somehow help his reputation among the (presumed) hordes of anti-French-language Tokyoites ?

  2. Heh, yea… Gallois, Cauchy, Thom, Shwartz… all of them into making cheese. No wonder this country has such a wide offer…

    It’s very difficult to say what goes through the head of Ishihara when he makes such idiotic statements. I think it’s part pragmatism, part stupidity, with a layer of disregard for any form of foreign culture on top. He is a full on racist, who made some comments that would kill the political career of any mainstream politician in the west…

    If anything, I guess that reflects more on the apathy of the average Japanese voter (completely disconnected from politics) more than any sort of hatred or even strong feeling against the French language. Most of the fluffy obaachans who would tend to vote on his good family man looks probably even think that French is a cute and lovable language… As for him, he was likely just trying to justify some deep cuts and forgot to turn his brain on before opening his mouth… which does happen quite often…

  3. He he, too bad! I’m sorry Ishihara shit, I went for an interview and…what’s happen, a Japanses manager didn’t know to’s true (it was 430 / 4 = 107.50, he stopped at 107 something after 30 sec!) I don’t know if he knows everything for a dplomate (?). We know all that French is the diplomatic language..sorry for the Japanese but your language is still too poor
    But, I prefer keep in silence this shit of a man who has never stopped “enjo kosai” and so on…
    Well, seems like, he is satisfied himself! Do I continue?

  4. the translation from japanese to english is intended provocatively here. governor simply said french can’t count in japanese. in english translation, it is said as if french people are bad at mathematical calculation. hence david’s comment. when governor said french cannot count means when you say 97 for exapmple in french, they have to say 20×4+17. among developped countries’ language, french is the only language to count as if they can’t count. in other latin derivative such as spanish, italian, romanian, they don’t do. what’s dumb is those who respond blindly to his comment just by reading stupid english translation.

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