So tonight I was at a huge party at the Imperial Hotel welcoming one of the international bigwigs of PricewaterhouseCoopers to town. It was a major affair. They booked an enormous banquet room, and provided foreign guests with earphones so they could listen to simultaneous translations of Japanese speeches from the major partners in the tax and advisory wings of PwC. Then the bigwig came up to speak, and he had a Japanese interpreter copying each sentence of his English speech. A slightly more stilted performance.
Finally came the guest of honor: the Foreign Minister himself. He wandered out onto the podium, looking slightly drunk, and proceeded with his speech… in English. Now, Aso doesn’t exactly speak perfect English to begin with, and being red-faced didn’t help too much either. He stumbled around a talk about international business for a couple of minutes, then turned to the interpreter (who was still hanging around from the last speech) and shouted “All right, now translate it!”
One of my companions looked down at his simultrans earpiece and said “I wonder if he’ll get the message if I put this on?”