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France's Hollande calls Japan 'China', interpreter saves day

Published on Jun 7, 2013 4:49 PM
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France's President Francois Hollande (above) delivers a speech to the National Diet in Tokyo on Friday, June 7, 2013. Mr Hollande was left red-faced in Tokyo on Friday after a slip of the tongue that saw him confuse his Japanese hosts with the Chinese. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - France's President Francois Hollande was left red-faced in Tokyo on Friday after a slip of the tongue that saw him confuse his Japanese hosts with the Chinese.

During a news conference, Mr Hollande, speaking in French, referred to the Algerian hostage crisis in January in which 10 Japanese nationals died, saying he had "expressed the condolences of the French people to the Chinese people".

The President, who is in Japan on a three-day state visit, made no attempt to correct his mistake.

A quick-thinking female interpreter fixed the verbal gaffe as she gave her simultaneous translation, rendering the sentence as it had been intended. However, at least one Japanese journalist with knowledge of French picked up on the error.

 
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