Jeremy Hunt Becomes First UK Minister to speak Japanese in Japan

Jeremy Hunt has become the first British minister to deliver a speech in Japanese while making his first official visit to the country. The foreign secretary spent a year in Japan in his 20s where he learnt the language. And it appears he managed to hold on to the skill while addressing representatives of exchange programmes in Tokyo.

He said he hoped the speech would strengthen the friendship between Britain and Japan ‘not least because for the first time there is a British foreign secretary who can speak a little Japanese’. Hunt added: ‘To all Japanese people, Britain will always be your friend.’


The minister also managed to avoid a repeat of an embarrassing mistake he made earlier this year on an official visit to China. He was seeking to curry favour with his hosts there by telling them his wife was Chinese – except he said she was Japanese by mistake. ‘My wife is Japanese – my wife is Chinese. Sorry, that’s a terrible mistake to make,’ he told diplomats last month.

Hunt referenced the awkward moment on Twitter alongside a photo of himself and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying: ‘Even if my wife isn’t Japanese, good to meet the Japanese PM – and confirm the excellent partnership between our two countries.’

This time around though, things seemed to go a lot smoother in his speech before holding talks with the prime minister to discuss a range of issues including the future UK-Japan economic partnership and security on the Korean Peninsula.


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