The truth behind Shinji Kagawa’s misquoted ‘frustrated’ comments in Japan

by Sam Peoples

Shinji Kagawa was yesterday quoted by the world’s press voicing his frustration at not playing for Manchester United after Japan’s 3-1 victory over Ghana.

He reportedly told reporters to ‘Please ask David Moyes why I’m not in the side’ which was a comment extremely out of character for someone as reserved as Kagawa, and it seems that his comments were indeed misreported.

Writing on his Twitter account, JSports TV pundit and Goal columnist Ben Mabley, who was in the mixed zone, shed some light on Kagawa’s comments from his interview and how the interpretations of his words have led to the wrong narrative being portrayed.

He said: “Unless Kagawa said something to someone which has not been reported by a single Japanese source, which seems unlikely as he only stopped once for a big gaggle of us in the mixed zone last night, the misreporting of his actually quite bland comments is getting out of hand.

“Good job I’m a professional translator as well as a journalist. Bad: ‘Please ask David Moyes’. Better: ‘You would have to ask the manager.’

“Kagawa was clearly not pleading. It was just a standard, throwaway means of declining the question so as not to put words in Moyes’ mouth.”

The difficult nature of Japanese translation may have caused the misrepresentation of Kagawa’s quotes or the necessity for an immediate deadline. Either way, what was quoted and what he really said were in effect two entirely different things.

“The issue with Japanese is contextual deletion,” Mabley added.

“You can basically drop sentence subjects, objects, verbs, all manner if clear by context.

“These obviously then need to be put back when translated into English. In Kagawa’s case, context was obvious from the (unreported) questions.

“Incidentally, Kagawa also did not say that his frustration comes in waves. That is another mistranslation that ignores context of question.

“Having just spoken of his desire to take his chance at United when it comes, Kagawa was asked if he feels under pressure at the moment.

“Kagawa said: ‘Well, one always has ups & downs (the waves) mentally/emotionally, but I’m very much looking forwards/positively and working hard.’

Kagawa is a national icon in Japan and his every word is waited on with baited breath. It seems that in this case the pressures of meeting an immediate deadline meant that context was left out, causing a twisted version of Kagawa’s comments to be published.

Mabley continued: ” ‘Please ask Moyes’ is almost certainly a 100% accurate, literal translation of Kagawa’s answer. So no criticism of whomever relayed it but the nuances interpreted from the English are simply not there in the Japanese.

“The ‘please’ isn’t a plead to ask on Kagawa’s behalf, it just simply makes his point/sentence/answer more polite.

“Kagawa’s point was simply if you would like Moyes’ opinion, you would have to ask him as he was not able to speak for him.”

It is no surprise to see that Kagawa’s comments yesterday were misrepresented because it goes against his character and personality. United players have traditionally kept their issues in house and hardly ever air their dirty laundry in public and while Kagawa is clearly frustrated, he has to be commended for not relaying that to the press in full.

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