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Mind your language, Japan PM tells parliamentarian

Written by: Staff

Tokyo, Mar 15: A question in Japan's parliament today peppered with English financial terms had Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi warning a lawmaker to mind his language.

''Who understands (English) words like 'compliance' and 'governance'?'' Koizumi asked the embarrassed opposition questioner.

''Use words that ordinary people can understand,'' he said to loud cheers and laughter.

''Some members know English, I've studied a bit, but debates shouldn't be limited to those who understand English. Debates are for everyone.'' English and other foreign-language words are increasingly common in Japan, and are often introduced as much to make something sound exotic or important as to describe concepts for which there is no local equivalent -- though non-Japanese often laugh at the peculiar usages.

The issue has become an emotive one among some academics and language purists as well as among the elderly, for whom the unfamiliar words can often be a cause of confusion.


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