Poor English saved Japan bankers from Lehman


TOKYO : Japan’s banks emerged from the 2008 global credit crisis largely unscathed because senior employees did not speak English well enough to have got them into trouble, the country’s finance minister said Friday.

Taro Aso, who also serves as deputy prime minister, said bankers in Japan  had not been able to understand the complex financial instruments that were the  undoing of major global players, so had not bought them.

“Many people fell prey to the dubious products, or so-called subprime  loans. Japanese banks were not so much attracted to these products, compared  with European banks,” Aso told a seminar in Tokyo.

“There was an American who said Japanese banks are healthy, but that’s not  true at all.

“Managers of Japanese banks hardly understood English, that’s why they  didn’t buy,” he said.

Aso’s comments Friday are the latest in a line of pronouncements that have  raised eyebrows.

The one-time prime minister said in January the elderly should be allowed  to “hurry up and die” instead of costing the government money with expensive  end-of-life medical care.

In 2007 he had to apologise for a quip about patients with Alzheimer’s  disease and for making light of flood damage in central Japan.

But the deputy prime minister, who is known as a dapper dresser and often  seen sporting a jauntily-angled hat, on Friday boasted he had managed to keep  his foot out of his mouth since Shinzo Abe came to power as premier in December.

However, the boast was somewhat undermined when he initially got the name  of the prime minister wrong.

“I have made no gaffes in the past half year even as newspapers said the  Aso administration’s... No, the Abe administration’s biggest problem is Taro  Aso’s gaffes,” he said.--AFP

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