00:22 GMT +319 October 2019
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    US First Lady Melania Trump (L) and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, tour Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, on February 11, 2017.

    Japanese Prime Minister's Wife Fakes Ignorance of English for Donald Trump

    © AFP 2019 / Gaston De Cardenas
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    Sitting next to US President Donald Trump at an official function resulted in the wife of Japan's Prime Minister taking extreme action. At the recent G20 summit in Hamburg, Akie Abe sat in silence, for 90 minutes, pretending she could not speak English.

    Mr. Trump of course fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

    "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," Mr. Trump told New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

    "Like, nothing, right? Like zero?" she asked him.

    "Like, not even 'hello,' " replied Mr. Trump.

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie arrive for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 6, 2017.
    © REUTERS / AXEL SCHMIDT
    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie arrive for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 6, 2017.

    "But I enjoyed the evening with her, and she's really a lovely woman, and… the whole thing was good," said Mr. Trump, for once trying hard not to create a diplomatic incident.

    ​Imagine how hurt the "leader of the free world" would have been when he read that the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks perfect English, with only a slight accent.

    She has been seen chatting away happily in English with Michelle Obama and with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin.

    Back in 2007, she happily chatted away in English with Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka at a White House reception hosted by then President George W. Bush and his wife Laura.

    US First Lady Laura Bush (R) gestures as Akie Abe (L) from Japan and Mrs. Chang (C) from Taiwan look on during a visit by spouses of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) nation leaders to the Vietnam National Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi, 19 November 2006.
    © AFP 2019 / EVERETT KENNEDY BROWN
    US First Lady Laura Bush (R) gestures as Akie Abe (L) from Japan and Mrs. Chang (C) from Taiwan look on during a visit by spouses of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) nation leaders to the Vietnam National Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi, 19 November 2006.

    She even chatted with Melania Trump earlier this year at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, when their husbands were playing golf.

    So it must be something personal.

    When an opera performance at the G20 summit ended, Mrs. Abe sat in stony silence next to Mr. Trump for around an hour and a half during dinner rather than converse with him.

    Mrs. Abe, who is from a wealthy Japanese family, used to work as a DJ in her home town of Shimonoseki.

    She is a supporter of the LGBT community and joined the gay pride community in Tokyo in 2014.

    "I don't think I have any special talents, but I am able to make connections with people. I'm one of the few people in this country who can talk to a wide range of people, from the Emperor to the homeless," she said during an interview last year.

    Mrs. Abe's husband is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party which, despite its name, is a conservative party which has ruled Japan almost without interruption since 1945.

    Her behavior may have been influenced by Mr. Trump's famously crude attitude towards women, which was underlined recently by creepy remarks he made about French President Emmanuel Macron's wife Brigitte.

    "You're in such good shape. She's in such good physical shape. Beautiful," said Mr. Trump.

    Mrs. Macron is 64, a quarter of a century older than her husband.

    Related:

    Trump Tells France’s ‘Beautiful’ First Lady She’s in ‘Good Physical Shape’
    Trump Praises Merkel for Organizing G20 Summit Despite Protests In Hamburg
    Japan's Public Support for Abe Gov’t Sinks to Record Low - Poll
    Tags:
    dinner, English language, G20 summit, G20 summit in Hamburg, Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Melania Trump, Shinzo Abe, Akie Abe, Donald Trump, Japan, United States, Hamburg
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