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More Japanese shunning the outside world

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By Gavin Blair

Today, it appears that Japan is increasingly looking inward and walling itself off from outside influences — a trend that's showing up in everything from movies to music to learning languages. Even as the supposedly irresistible tide of globalization washes against Japan's shores, insular and parochial attitudes are strengthening.

“When I was a university student, courses like English literature, German literature, French literature and foreign languages were difficult to get into, they were so popular," said Takashi Koyama, a professor at Akita International University. "Nowadays, those courses are struggling to get students.”

Last year, Japan celebrated the 150th anniversary of its reopening to the outside world, persuaded by American gunships to end two centuries of self-imposed isolation.

Japan has traditionally been a curious mix of closed-mindedness and the enthusiastic absorption of outside influences. In the century and a half since signing that treaty with the United States, this "country of contradictions" has struggled in its relationships with all things foreign.

The trend was certainly on display at this year's Academy Awards ceremony.

The event was the most successful in Japanese cinematic history, landing two gongs, including the first ever full Oscar for a non-animated movie. But even as Japan bathed in the glory of Hollywood approval, pundits and politicians were lining up to explain how the victory by "Okuribito" (Departures) in the foreign language film category reflected the "unique Japanese concept of death."

The success of "Departures" is part of a renaissance in Japanese films that has coincided with a loss of interest in Hollywood productions. As recently as 2000, imported movies outsold Japanese productions by more than two to one. In 2007, Japanese films took the majority of the box office total for the first time in more than 20 years, and last year, only three overseas films managed to break the top 10.

"Younger Japanese audiences don’t connect so strongly with Hollywood films recently," said Yusuke Horiuchi of Toho-Towa, which distributes overseas films in Japan.

The increasing market share of domestic movies can be at least partly explained by a recent bump in the quality of Japanese film.

It’s difficult to make the same case for the local music industry. J-pop is still dominated by saccharine acts manufactured by a small number of talent agencies and hit factories here, and yet they too are outselling international artists like never before. The last few years have seen a steady decline in sales of overseas bands with Japanese artists cornering 81% of the market in 2008.

The causes of this increase in parochialism are somewhat hard to identify. A sense of cultural pride, particularly among young people, has certainly developed regarding the popularity of Japanese manga, music and fashion, across Asia, and around the world. The "hungry spirit" that drove Japan’s development from post-war decimation to economic superpower, has inevitably faded, and with it, the notion that interaction with the outside world is a necessity rather than a wish. "As Japan has become more prosperous, fewer people are taking the trouble to learn foreign languages," Koyama said.

The current global slowdown has been brutal to Japan’s export-driven economy. Whether this reliance on foreign economies emphasizes to Japan the interdependence of today’s planet, or whether the nature of this "imported crisis" increases resentment at the world beyond its borders, remains to be seen.

But whatever its roots, some are worried a rise in nationalist sentiment is mirroring this loss of interest in foreign languages and foreign affairs. "The decline in the English ability of Japanese people also means that people are becoming isolated information-wise," Koyama said. "Even some of our young diplomats can’t really function in English properly, which means they can’t get information from abroad. It’s a dangerous trend."

At Akita International University, Koyama teaches all of his classes purely in English. One of the principal aims of the university, founded only five years ago, is to raise the standard of English among young Japanese.

The ministry of education is concerned that the English ability of the Japanese population is slipping behind that of its Asian neighbors, such as Korea and China. So it's introducing language classes in public elementary schools, though on an ad hoc basis, often using students' mothers as volunteer instructors.

Indeed, this year's Academy Awards were also memorable for the very limited English in the two directors’ acceptance speeches — in fact, the younger filmmaker appeared even less comfortable in English than his compatriot, more than two decades his senior.

Kunio Kato did manage to raise a lot of laughter with his halting 40-word acceptance speech for the best animated short, even being hailed as the, "Best Oscar Speech Ever."

Some observers in Japan however, no longer see creeping isolationism in a globalized 21st century as a laughing matter.

© GlobalPost

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

104 Comments
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If this is the reason the yen rate is falling and the dollar is rising, I am all for it.

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I think Japanese students have realised they can´t ¨globalize¨ in a personal level.

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Still not enough.

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There are two distinct kinds of J-Pop. One kind put the people on the tube, and let them sing off key, flat or just plane bad. I have to turn that garbage off. The other kind never show on TV and are quite excellent.

Except for North Korea, all of Japan`s neighbors have always been better about speaking English than the Japanese. Reason: They understand that there is a big difference in having a conversation, rather than talking like a book.

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with inward they mean more hikkikomori?

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that academy awards speech was epic. "sank you, sank you".

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perhaps people subconsciously known that japan's place in the sun is over. it will surely be replaced by china, and also korea

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its disturbing.many times ve been to govt offices,banks ,hospitals etc and there is not a single soul who speaks english.for now,english is the accepted international language so it will prudent if they encourage some of its people to learn the language.

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I recently met a group of 40 or so tourists from Taiwan who ALL spoke almost fluent English! When I asked a few how they picked up the language so well they all said "we learned it in high school and college". Now the ages represented in this group was from 35 to about 70, so that education would have been awhile ago ... good memory!

Now take 40 or so Japanese in the same age catagories and you might get a few words of English out some and alot of confused looks from the rest.

If the Japanese wish to isolate themselves from the rest of the world let them! Other Asian countries are more willing to step up and take their place. Narita and Kansai will become nothing more than refueling stops for tourists and business travelers heading to China, South Korea and Vietnam.

Sooner or later this attitude will begin to push foreigners out of Japan completely. History always has a way of repeating itself.

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its disturbing.many times ve been to govt offices,banks ,hospitals etc and there is not a single soul who speaks english.for now,english is the accepted international language so it will prudent if they encourage some of its people to learn the language.

What's more disturbing to me is arrogant foreigners who think they should be able to waltz into government offices, banks, hospitals etc. in Japan and start speaking English to the staff as if they own the place.

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shiuu: It takes Japanese people 3-4 years to communicate on an elementary level and even older Japanese STILL use dictionaries from time to time on various governmental documents. Do not confuse arrogance with inability; even with many loan words Japanese is a difficult language for native English speakers.

The ministry of education is concerned that the English ability of the Japanese population is slipping behind that of its Asian neighbors, such as Korea and China

I can report first-hand that this is true, at least with China, Taiwan, and the Phillipines. If China continues on it's current path (and Japan on it's current path) China will no doubt overcome Japan, and not just economically.

As much as I love Japan, I can't help but feel fatalist articles like this truly foreshadow that Japan will willingly disappear from the world.

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shuii-i speak some japanese as well but not to point i can express my self fully n at times u need at least one person ho can at least speak english.that does not mean arrogance.in many cities around the world where they all have their native languages a considerable number speak english.mind you ,am not a native speaker but learnt it cos i knew it is the international language now.ve u bothered to ask why certain centres designated for foreigners are manned by people who cannot babble no other word than "sank you".

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The general level is shocking really. Look at the Oscars as an example. You would think that they might have made more effort, considering the nominations but the 'Sankyu, Sankyu was the best that particular winner could come up with, and older director was hardly any better. I am sure he pronounced 'the' as 'ji', in good old Katakana Engrish style.....

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It's more a case that Japanese people find home grown movies, music more relevant to them. Plenty of Japanese people speak English if you give them a chance.

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I am sure he pronounced 'the' as 'ji', in good old Katakana Engrish style.....

Isn't it 'za'? They should just ban the use of katakana in english teaching.

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Using mothers as volunteer English instructors??? Hey, You get what you pay for. Need to get off your thumbs, open those wallets, and pay for quality English instruction from people with college degrees who understand the learning processes.

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That's a fact that japanese can't spell more than a few words in english. During my last trip I had the chance to "really" talk with only ten or so japanese and I remember those who were most talking did it in... french. Which really surprised me. I think many countries, even big ones, doesn't speak english much. I'll take France, Italy and Spain as an example... Anyway I don't think Japan is isolating itself from outside, the example of the language classes is not good from my point of view. Students just know how bad are their teachers and prefer to learn the languages via penpals/private schools.

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Japan teaches English like it teaches math. I haven't seen how they teach kokugo classes, but I imagine that if they treated English like a language they'd do a lot etter. The first step is to bite the bullet and start accepting the use of subjective evaluatory methods (essays, projects, speeches, free writing...) rather than objective ones (multiple chocie grammar and vocab quizes, etc...).

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The other thing about American movies is that on the whole they are losing market share in the USA itself. Critics are saying that it is because of poor quality in the writing and a prevalent left wing viewpoint. The production companies say that it is the audiences fault they are not sophisticated enough to appreciate them and they are making up the difference with overseas sales. So now they are starting to lose overseas sales??

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shuii-i speak some japanese as well but not to point i can express my self fully n at times u need at least one person ho can at least speak english.that does not mean arrogance.in many cities around the world where they all have their native languages a considerable number speak english.mind you ,am not a native speaker but learnt it cos i knew it is the international language now.ve u bothered to ask why certain centres designated for foreigners are manned by people who cannot babble no other word than "sank you".

Translation: "I'm too lazy to learn even basic Japanese."

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One problem is that the Japanese are brought up to believe that they cannot or should not learn English to a high level. Those that can speak good English are praised as if it were something special, whereas in many other countries, speaking English (non-native speakers) is absolutely no big deal. The fact that the young Japanese golfer, Ishikawa, was made to read his invitation in English to the public and that this was the top news had my eyes rolling. Many young people in other parts of Asia, like the Phil., HK, are able to switch back and forth from their native language to English with relative ease. And they see it as no big deal.

One thing that bugs me, especially in NHK news interviews, is that when a Jp interviewer asks a question in English, Jp subtitles appear, and then when the foreigner replies in English, his/her voice is dubbed over. It's as if they're saying 'Wow, the Jp can speak English'. Well, big deal.

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Translation: "I'm too lazy to learn even basic Japanese."

I am lazy, too. I don´t like Japanese, or think it´s worth studying it. And I don´t want to communicate or learn the Japanese culture. Uninteresting. On the other hand, if a Japanese tries to communicate in Japanese I just smile, wave and walk away. Now if he or she tries to speak in English, I have some patience. But soon I get bored with the ¨do you know we have four seasons?¨-thing so I just smile, wave and walk away. I have seen thousands who behave like me. So, we are to be blamed too. We have in this country the imperfect equation: lots of foreigners who really don´t like Japan, plus the Japanese who can´t speak a real international language. And the ones who do, they are and speak too naive.

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Why do foreigners think that Japanese should speak English and do everything their way? If you're a foreigner in Japan you should speak Japanese. Why should people have to hold your hand? Who cares if China overcomes Japan? This may or may not come to pass. Also, I doubt the world's second-largest economy is ever going to collapse. Have you guys ever looked at America? It's in far worse shape than Japan.

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"Why do foreigners think that Japanese should speak English and do everything their way?"

Umm, because Japanese want us to buy their trinkets maybe ?

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Japan is not shunhing the outside world. They are becoming more and more irrelevant, and as other countries (vietnam, china) step up gradually take japans place with cheaper goods of similar quality, they will have no choice but to be self sufficient, as their economy will revert to what it was before WWII. (very poor, which led them to want to steal from other countries)

Had Japan not been re engineered after their humbling wwII loss, their cinderalla story post war economy never would have happened. They are not shunning the outside world, the outside world is shunning them.

Japan is like a giant collective little kid who is packing up his toys and pouting his way home after the big kids don't want to play anymore.

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Seeing more Hollywood films than domestic ones and listening to more overseas musicians than J-pop artists is not globalization. Nor more sales of American cars either. And of course the reverse is not to be called nationalism or cultural pride or non-tariff barrier. It's a matter of taste and choice in a free society.

Our goddamned poor ability to communicate in English has scarcely anything to do with globalization too. Globalization means in most cases to deregulate the domestic market up to what is called "global standard" which is often no more than some other foreign domestic standard so that foreign capital can come in. Without speaking any bit of English, therefore, you can feel irresistible tide of globalization washing over Japan as we see, for example, frequent TV commercials in Japanese language for foreign-owned insurance companies. So creeping isolationism in a globalized 21st century is actually a laughing matter. We better raise the rate of self-sufficiency in food and boost domestic demand than try to improve our English ability probably in vain.

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The ministry of education is concerned that the English ability of the Japanese population is slipping behind that of its Asian neighbors, such as Korea and China.

Dear Mr Blair,

Although I generally concur with your article and share your preoccupation about the ability of Japan to communicate with the rest of the planet in the future, I want to challenge your "... is slipping behind...".

The sad truth is that Japan has consistently been behind, particularly when benchmarked against China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore etc. I remember reading in the English version of Asahi Shimbun about the global results of Asian countries in the TOEFL test ; Japan was (when I read it, a few years ago) ranking 3rd from the bottom of the list ; if my recollection is correct, only Aghanistan and Cambodia (?) were doing less well.

But overall you are right, and it is clear to my mind that Japan is going to hurt itself a lot at a time when there is no margin for error !

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"Younger Japanese audiences don’t connect so strongly with Hollywood films recently".

And is that a bad thing? The speaker seems to imply that it is.

And why the big sink over Kato making a short speech in rather bad English. Everyone knows the Oscars are very prestigious and the greater majority of movie makers aim for them, but Kato lives in Japan and might or might not have an interest in learning English. Any language is very time intensive if you want to speak it well, and he mightn't want to spend that time learing something he doesn't want/need.

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Japanese in general have always been inwards-looking due to the islander-psychology. "Foreigners" or "gaijin" have always been well defined in Japanese society.

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Wow they make a claim that things are changing in Japan based on 1 or 2 years of changing trends. That clearly shows a trend? Remember the hype of "global warming"? Well, the last two years in my home city have been way colder and record snow fall that is still on the ground now. I guess based on these finding here over a 1 to 2 year time frame I must conclude that global warming is over as well. Not that global warming was real to begin with nor that the world has only been here 6000 years to the god fearing idiots.

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This is a natural reaction against "American media" that refuses to market people of yellow skin in broader casting roles that lie beyond those that exploit marginalised ethnic stereotypes.

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bamboohat wrote:

"Had Japan not been re engineered after their humbling wwII loss, their cinderalla story post war economy never would have happened. They are not shunning the outside world, the outside world is shunning them."

I generally agree with the first statement; the second one seems to be both, in my opinion.

"Japan is like a giant collective little kid who is packing up his toys and pouting his way home after the big kids don't want to play anymore."

So nearly six decades after the end of the U.S. Occupation following WWII, Japan is something like 12 1/2 years old, instead of 12. A pre-pubescent Japan just hasn't been able to mature enough in its relations with the rest of the world.

Japan will continue down the irrelevancy slide on the world economic stage, and will continue to be mired in the ongoing political morass, as well as being hampered by unyielding social problems for a long time.

How the Japanese will initate some sort of 21st century Meiji Restoration/post WWII Showa Miracle Recovery is impossible to say.

The future looks very bleak, Japan.

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quality English instruction from people with college degrees who understand the learning processes.

That type of English teacher (Foreign or Japanese) doesn't exist in Japan.

lots of foreigners who really don´t like Japan

Who also apparently can't go home. One of the reason I left Japan was the asinine complaining of foreigners in a certain field of work. Japan is eventually going to be left with bitter Japanese and bitter foreigners feeding off of each others bitterness and not be able to communicate.

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I think there is another explanation for what I'll call the decline in interest in the US. The US, and the west in general, is itself in decline. The quality of Hollywood movies pales in comparison with its past, as does nearly every other, especially social/cultural, aspect. Music in particular.

I would say the Japanese are becoming less interested in the US, like the rest of the world, because the US no longer dominates economically and culturally as it once did. The 20th century was the American century, and it is over.

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I'll continue the idea from the last post, that with a US decline, Japan has to finally define itself as a country in some way. That way isn't English and I don't think that's a bad thing. US movies are terrible so that's hardly any metric. Somehow merging the identity of Japan with English was confused from the start. Should the world economy pick up again, interest in commerce will increase language as a use, not just to learn it for the sake of learning.

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The Japanese don't seem to be interested in each other let alone anything or anyone outside their own culture.

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They are only interested in kiddie things and daft TV programmes.

They couldn't cope with a cultured society like Britain, they don't have the sophistication of other countries.

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Two words. Fear and Protectionism.

Let's face it, the Japanese public, like most, consume what they are fed. The simple fact with film is that the selection of foreign films being imported is small and not always representative of the best films out there. Just spend some time on Yahoo Movies and then follow up how many of the great previews you've seen ever make it here.

My friends in Seattle run a movie review site and they have had dozens of great recommendations over the years. Films that never show up here. So how can you fairly compare?

The Japanese film industry and theatres are not bringing in or promoting much foreign cinema these days other than the typical hollywood big block busters. So to say that J cinema is going through a qualitative leap that is responsible for this is simply silly. More in fact we are seeing J film shutting out competition at the cinema by limiting what is imported and by failing to import a range of films that might appeal here.

As for the overall inward turn. Japan is coming to terms with the fact that it is subject to the outside world. So, as in the past, it is attempting to shut itself in again. This will not work or last.

More concerning is the trend for Japanese to shut themselves in as they are increasingly anti-social and isolated. This is the tip of a major mental health iceberg that threatens this nation's very viability.

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Japan is an island today only in the physical sense.

This willed notion to think of itself as still 'isolated' - as an island might be - is just plain silly ... but the metaphor will never die here as it helps to keep things 'unique', 'pure', and oh so 'special' .

This kind of attitude will surely cut off the nose in spite of ...

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Why bother talking to anybody, let alone a non-Japanese, as long as you've got your keitai, nintendo and iPod to keep you company?

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Professor Koyama notes that foreign language departments are struggling to get students. What he doesn't mention is that all university departments are struggling to get students.

It is well known that there are more seats available then students to fill them at universities here. Especially at new universities like his. According to this line of thinking I could say that because business departments are struggling to get students, Japanese people are no longer interested in business. Or, technology departments are struggling to get students, so Japanese people are no longer interested in technology.

To turn it completely around: Japanese culture and language departments are struggling to get students; therefore Japanese people are no longer interested in Japan. It's laughable.

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Thenewfront, I think you're way off there. Japan has centuries of history and culture (look at all of those historical and samurai dramas) on which its culture is based. It's funny you should mention the Britain, because that is the western culture most people would say is most similar to Japanese. Unfortunately, Britain is also similarly in decline.

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Sorry, in decline in the same way the US (and the west, really) is in decline.

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japan continues to believe that, in its dealings with the outside world, it can continue to have all the pros and none of the cons. it seems like this has been its approach since the meiji period; we want your technology but we don't want your social system. but the same as you can separate a society's language from its culture, you can't separate a society's culture from its technology. the further back you look into european culture (for example), the more it looks like japan; rigid social system, group based culture, etc. yet as time went on this system was forced to change, mostly by advances in technology. japan has undergone the same technological revolutions but has stubbornly refused to allow its social system to adapt and evolve in appropriate ways. i'm not saying the japan should now have the same social model as the west, but if there hadn't been such a resistance to any kind of social change then japan would definitely now have a system more suited to the environment within which it now finds itself. instead it has a medieval system which is ill-suited to dealing with a fast progressing and shrinking world

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I'm surprised Japan celebrates this at all.

Wasn't the fact it was done at gunpoint make this an odd thing to celebrate at all?

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I'm not surprised. Japanese pride themselves in being different. They spent the last thousand years trying to prove they are not Chinese although, the kanji still remains. The thing Japanese fear most when traveling abroad is, looking like a geek and not fitting in. However, because they have tried so hard to be different and blocked the outside world for so long they will never fit in. Consequently, they wanna stay home were they fit in. - The reason they are not traveling abroad could bee summed up very simply, they are embarrassed.

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i don't have the statistics to hand, but i seem to recall the percentage of japanese travelling abroad always being in single figures. i think some people are surprised about this but the reason might be that when the japanese do travel they are quite visible (large tour groups of flap-jacket wearing cameraphiles) and also that this country does have a large population (128 million), but in actually fact the vast majority of people have never been abroad

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There is no way Japan should celebrate 150 years, 100 years ago you would be killed in the street samurai style just by being a foreigner, in fact all foreigners had to be living in a certain area just so that they wouldn't get attacked. Japan should seriously read their history books.

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Mikesbo,

You were right the first time. The UK is on the decline like Japan because of its lack of relevance. Japan is more similar to the UK. Despite its re-engineering by the US after WWII. The US parallels China more than any other Eastern country. Even though they are experiencing some economic hardship the US will come on top. China needs the US and vice-versa. They will hold the others hand during these difficult times.

Japan on the other hand is not as important as it once was. This uniqueness its always trying to foster is making it become less desirable to the global community. Becoming more global means being subjected to criticism by the international community. Which Japan seems not to be able to deal with very well. We seem to constantly see Japanese official trying gimmicks to seem relevant internationally. Examples are bids for the Olympics, offering stimulus money and trying to meet the President first. Only problem is most of the acts are lacking substance. Countries are taking note. In response, to being ignored or criticized, Japan is starting to isolate itself more. It will need to as it's economy shrinks.

If you want to run with the big dogs, you have to stop pissing like a pup.

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I think we are living in Japan, so we should speak japanese. I am more fluent in english than japanese but I'm coming to it slowly.

As for the movies, to me, the american production are not very well exposed here so that's why they don't perform as well as japanese ones. Less commercials (did you notice the number of shows, documentaries interviews etc ... on "20th century boy"? Compare now to "Eagle Eye", "Iron man" etc ...) Also, when I was living in France, I could notice that 90% of the movies in theaters were american. Here in Japan, the ratio is not that high ... and a lot are not even shown. That's easy to say people prefer japanese movies if you offers more of them. If you have 9 japanese movies and 1 american movie. Well, you have more chances that people will choose a japanese one.

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Shiuu, Yes too lazy to learn basic Japanese because here as a visitor and it is too much hassle. And I don't need it most times. As for holding up samurai dramas as culture, wow! Most of them are moronic and show the nasty, sexist, hierarchical and - yes -childish notions that underpin much of Japanese thinking.

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Shiuu, Yes too lazy to learn basic Japanese because here as a visitor and it is too much hassle.

It's less annoying for visitors. Of course, I've heard more than one 20 year "visitor" offer that very same lame excuse.

The point is, if foreigners in Japan are too lazy to learn Japanese, what right do they have to demand Japanese people learn English just to make their lives easier?

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Shiuu,

The reason is if they want tourism money then they should make Japan more accessible to visitors. If you go to other countries throughout the world they cater to the clientele. If the majority of customers speak English they learn. If it is Japanese they speak Japanese. Japan doesn't seem to get that. Which is why they are on the decline. Pouting with your arms folded until someone gives in isn't going to work anymore. Especially, since competition from its neighbors are making Japan less relevant. If they don't grow up soon and change there attitude. There protectionism is going to send them right back to poor economy pre-WWII. How long you think Japan will isolate itself this time? If you are living here long term the 'Yes' learning the language should be done to some degree. Japan doesn't even try to do it for the short term. Which why most places refuse foreigners but yet want their money. Japan as a society to some extent display the behaviors of immature teenager. "A Nation of Children" as one author put it. They want their cake and eat it too.

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Good Jorb. >Who also apparently can't go home. One of the reason I left Japan was the asinine complaining of foreigners in a certain field of work. Japan is eventually going to be left with bitter Japanese and bitter foreigners feeding off of each others bitterness and not be able to communicate.

problem GJ is that yes, Japanese are getting bitter by the day. Foreigners feel that. And really, as I said, there are a lot of foreigners who gave up communicating with J people but don´t care about it that much. What really they care, at least me, it´s the J money. eheh.

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OK. So all foreigners leave. Seal off the country. Fine. Back to the Middle ages.

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English is the language of the seas: Ships communicate with eachother in English. English is the language of Air traffic controllers and Pilots all over the world (except for Quebec). The Alternative major languages in the world are as follows: Spanish, Chinese, Russian.

I would expect that if you go to ANY country in the world and need assistance (at a hospital or police station) at least one of the people working there would speak either English, Chinese, Russian or Spanish. The only exceptions in the entire world are North Korea and Japan.

That said, I don't believe that the government of Japan actually WANTS people to learn to speak English. English speaking Japanese people can: see the world, develop a more open mind, and vote for the opposition party. So if you were in control and knew that by teaching English better, you would lose control, would you?

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The effect doesn't have to be language per se. There's a lot of high imported classical music and opera culture in Japan and done quite well. Many Japanese are also themselves international stars. I was watching someone signing Claire du Lune and I mentioned this to a friend saying it was a very famous piece, but he had no idea. If I'm the resident music expert, there's a problem.

Openness to world cultures is the joy of living in this world. If everyone just focuses on themselves, a sense of discovery and connection with other human beings, regardless of language or country, will surely follow.

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make that "a lost sense of..."

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2 points: 1st, the Hollywood analogy is terrible. Considering the fecal matter that comes out of Hollywood these days, I shun these movies too.

2nd, the Japanese shunning the outside world, who cares? The Japanese need the outside world more than the outside world needs the Japanese. If they want to continue being inward focused, more power to them. In the business world, less Japanese speaking foreign languages + more foreigners speaking Japanese = profit for the foreigners. Personally, I say let them focus on the next talento or an onsen in the inaka. When they are too shy/linguistically challenged to deal with the branch office in the States, I'll gladly help you out, for a nominal fee of course.

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The young generation in Japan doesn't feel it is necessary to make an effort anymore to engage in world affairs. Their prosperity was handed to them on a silver platter and one thing they have imported is the greed and lack of social responsibility from the West. It will be the next generation that will have to toil being handed a financially ruined country by these free loaders.

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It’s questionable for Americans to chastise the Japanese for not speaking English when native born Americans (of non foreign born parents) famously can’t speak a foreign language (because we don’t have to). Plus our foreign language education is a joke (because we don’t have to learn other languages). Also English, the language we demand all foreigners to speak, conveniently happens to be our language. I know the English speaking countries comprise the true center of the world but still.

Japan has obviously been successful despite the lack of proficient English speakers. Maybe Japan’s future looks dim to you but then again a lot of fear mongers think America’s future looks dim. Japanese bad at English, good at math and science; Americans good at English, bad at math and science. If America can import math/science talent from Asia, then Japan can import talent as needed from other countries as well. Like English/Japanese speakers. Offer enough money, the people will come.

I think other countries emphasize English so their citizens have the option to move to western countries where there’s more opportunity. One of the reasons why other Asian countries emphasize English is because they need to send students to American universities for an advanced education. In contrast, Japan has had enough good universities to remain competitive with the rest of the world.

Of course Japanese movies and especially J-pop music are more popular than ever. Even a growing number of westerners are more interested in Japan pop culture at least partly because the quality of western pop culture has been in decline since the late 90’s. Of course Japan, like everyone else, was hot for western culture back in the 50’s-early 90’s when western music/film was great. And of course the Japanese are buying less western music and watching less western movies as we are all buying/watching less new western music/movies.

Ever since 9/11 and the inevitable backlash against 1990’s postmodern polemics celebrating openness, we’ve seen many countries (or racial demographics within countries) become more closed, fearful, resentful of outsiders and their influences even as we all become more open in some ways. Usually “inward thinking” translates to a growing nostalgia for the glory days of the past – a natural tendency – especially in America where our WW2 victory over Japan is much more pleasant to reflect upon than the war in the Middle East. Japan has its “inaka thinking” as well and I can’t say it’s highly unusual. Everyone knows that you must strike a balance but are you sure that you know where or how Japan should strike that balance.

No sense in comparing Japan to China because obviously China’s great size has made everyone predict that China will be the next big power in the world – even bigger than America if you believe the fear mongers. Also, I don’t think you can assume that people in other non western countries are deep down any more open to westerners just because they speak better English. And I wouldn’t assume westerners are deep down truly open to a non western culture just because they display great interest.

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Blah Blah Blah, a handful of people feel that English ability has declined, well it wasn't good to begin with. Nationalist sentiment, always been there. Hollywood movies not doing as well, not sure about that either considering the popularity of the "The Dark Knight". I'll tell you this, the Japanese travel more than any other people. You go to the ends of the earth and will be sure to find Japnese tourists. I don't know that Japnese absorb much from their travels but if you want an insular uninformed society look to rural America.

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there are a lot of foreigners who gave up communicating with J people but don´t care about it that much.

There are a lot of foreigners in Japan who couldn't communicate in their own country as well. They bring thier socially undeveloped selfs to Japan and expect to treated differently/better then when they were back home and when they aren't accepted/treated better they become more embittered. I don't buy that they stay in Japan for money because I have yet to see a Job(other then English teaching) that pays better in Japan then in other places.

With the economy going down the way it is , like I said before bitter foreigners and bitter Japanese are going feed off each other and Japan is going to become inhospitable for rational thinking foreigners and Japanese.

English speaking Japanese people can: see the world, develop a more open mind, and vote for the opposition party.

If that were true(which it could be), why wouldn't Japan have a massive censoring firewall like China?

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Biglittleman,

I was saying the US and UK are both in decline.

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[They couldn't cope with a cultured society like Britain,]

Sorry but are you serious? The Japanese are cultured but not really that culturally sensitive so I'd say they are surpassing you in the former and coming neck and neck in the latter. I don't really care what their or the UK's situation is I just hope that they treat me as an individual and judge me by my character rather than my nationality and luckily my nationality is a 50/50 chance of a good outcome.

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usaexpat: The Japanese travel overseas far less than any other developed nation. Your post is entirely false.

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It seems to me that very few Japanese people can adequately communicate with those of non-Japanese nationality. I'm sure there are many reasons. One that I have been told by my native Japanese friends is that Japan is a secluded Island where exposure to foreigners is very limited. From my observation, this is one of the many reasons. Another reason I've observed and have read from many reputable books is the Japanese people's mistrust for anything or anyone foreign. I'm sure that this does not apply to all Japanese people. However, I've noticed subtle amounts of this prejudice which may not be visible to some (especially those who have unrealistic expectations of Japan and its people). In regards to some Japanese people's limited ability to adequately and effectively communicate in English, perhaps it is due to the lack of rules, regulations, and restrictions enforced by the Japanese government on programs hiring foreign English teachers entering Japan for the sole purpose to teach English. Its a shame that foreign non-college graduates without degrees or certificates to teach English can enter the country through English teaching programs (i.e., NOVA) to teach English to Japanese students with very faulty English both written and spoken. Therefore, there is little wonder that majority of the Japanese population have limited to no ability to communicate in English. The disparities are astounding. Please keep in mind that English is my second language and I'm not one of those supposedly foreigners especially Americans who believe every country on planet earth must learn to speak the international language which is supposedly English in this case in order to communicate with those from the West (preferably North America). In fact, I'm one of those people who believe that those entering a foreign country should make an attempt to study the countries culture and language and in therefore doing so making it an enjoyable and pleasant experience for both himself/herself and the natives. Even though my family migrated to the U.S when I was younger, I was already fluent in English and so are many others from my country (mostly the literate). Upon meeting my Japanese friends, I was asked on many occasions my secret to speaking English fluently and my response was that all the literate people in my country including a handful of those illiterate speak fluent English. Perhaps this is because in the schools, all students are required to speak only English and those caught not speaking English in the school premises are disciplined accordingly.

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[One that I have been told by my native Japanese friends is that Japan is a secluded Island where exposure to foreigners is very limited.]

This is total BS. Then why do The Philippines speak English, Indonesians, and those in many other nations? Exposure to foreigners is much more frequent in Japan than some others. Maybe it's their culture that makes them unable to learn.

[Its a shame that foreign non-college graduates without degrees or certificates to teach English can enter the country through English teaching programs (i.e., NOVA) to teach English to Japanese students with very faulty English both written and spoken. ]

This is also BS. I, when teaching english, ran into many kinds of teachers and just because they have a degree doesn't make them capable. I've found that most that didn't and learned by doing actually became better teachers because of the hands on experience as opposed to those 'qualified' up the ying yang but had no idea how to utilize the students time effectively. The culture of the country is what is holding them back. It's their own hang ups. But they like you nurse13, blame everyone else but number 1 therefore perpetuating this myth that it's the bad teachers and isolation as opposed to maybe changing their habits to improve. That is why Japan is going down hill and Japanese people are turning off of learning the language. I however don't doubt there have been many a bad teacher go through Japan but It think that is the same anywhere.

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Very enjoyable reading this healthy dialogue. There are great ways to fit into the j-world - music is the best. Since I started playing music with Japanese I've made countless excellent friends - and they ALL play western music, all sing in English, and love the language, the culture. Many of them can remember the lyrics to hundreds of English songs. (But then again, most of them are rather aged, like me.) Anyway, music has made my life in Japan so very enjoyable. I recommend finding groups that play and sing - you will find a horde of Japanese who are very outward looking.

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Closed mind, closed heart. Ignorance and cruelty go hand in hand. Every day we read about the exploitation of workers who do overtime for no compensation or about kids who are bullied at school and by their parents. Narrow horizons contain narrow ideas. Japan could be a paradise - a blend of peace, prosperity and happiness ... but not while this insularity prevails.

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In July 1987 when the New York Stock exchange index passed 2500 points, Japans index passed 38,000 points. Property prices in Japan had reached super bubble levels. The Yen had appreciated 300% in seven years. Everyone wanted to copy Japan's business methods that flowed out of the post-war Marshall Plan. Japanese tourists were enjoying the countries new found wealth and seeing the world. Today, Japans stock market index is at miserable 7,000 points, its currency has just had another huge detrimental upwards hike, its Federal Government is buried in public debt at 180% of Japan's US$4.3 trillion GDP. The Government is effectively bankrupt along with the banking system. Unemployment is rising, older Japanese would be worried as to how they will afford to live in the future. They see world stock markets crashing and widespread international fraud. The fact that the many Japanese are being thrifty demonstrates the level of commonsense of the ordinary person. Japan needs strong benign leadership. It is one country where its people are its main resource - it has few natural mineral or energy resources and limited agricultural and fishing capacity. It is a beautiful cerebral country but must learn English to compete with India, China and Asean. English is the international language. Hundreds of thousand of university students from the aforesaid countries studying in Australia, all write and speak good English. I stand to be corrected but understood there is abundant English language courses being undertaken in Japan. Without it Japan will be left behind. I cannot imagine Japan having a pop culture led recovery but good on it if it does.

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The world was simply deceived by the "image" of Japan...this developed sophisticated country....that image was and is much bigger than what the country has to offer.The history and culture is surprisingly shallow and for all the hubris Japan as it is today has a history of about 100 years.I get very embarrassed as a Japanese when I have guests from overseas who come here and all have the same reaction.." This is it ?? " The lack of english is terrible,but remember Japanese struggle to communicate with themselves Japanese,an easy an very limited language. Don't be fooled by Japan and you won't have a problem...we just try to give a bigger image than what we really are.As many foreigners say,just live in Japan for more than a year and you'll see the real Japan...unsophisticated,politically backward,physically ugly(enviroment and people),xenophobic,educationally inward and shallow,culturally shallow.We know this in the back of our minds,all that arrogance is just insecurity. Somehow this country works if it stays together,however it is quite a miserable pessimistic and dull place if you are REALLY looking for intellect.

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a lot of japanese are interested in the world outside of japan, but only insofar as this doesn't heavily conflict with their existing preconceptions; i've experienced this a lot as a brit who isn't from london and who isn't particularly interested in professional football.

thinking the oscars, this year's big winner was a british film dealing with an indian subject matter, and doing so relatively accurately, sympathetically and objectively. the thought of a japanese film being able to do this without resorting to stereotypes is laughable.

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I think 99% of JT posts are made by non-native Japanese so there's the best evidence of Japanese proficiency in English.

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Bushlover, I'm glad to have a different outlook on this topic. While I acknowledge my friends reasons, I neither share or condone their reasoning. As an individual interest in various cultures, I try to maintain an objective approach and in doing so acknowledge their practices despite my personal convictions. I believe Japan's limited exposure to foreigners plays a very minimal role in the Japanese people's limited ability to communicate with those of non-Japanese nationality. Please bear in mind that Japan is a homogeneous country with very few non-Japanese people. For generations, the Japanese employed specific communication skills in order to communicate among themselves. Both spoken and nonspoken alike. I'm sure many of us on JT are aware of the wa (harmony) concept. Because of "wa," the Japanese can predict eachother's thoughts with very little to no effort whereas us foreigners are seen as unpredictable. This tradition is still practiced in modern day Japan. What my friends failed to mentioned however, is that prejudice against non-Japanese also plays a role. This prejudice can range in subtle amounts to extreme amounts depending on the prefecture and exposure to foreigners. As a healthcare professional, I'm trained to make a decision or diagnosis after collecting both extensive subjective and objective data. A technique I try to employ in everyday life situations. Please bear in mind that my interest in Japan does not prevent me from seeing reality for what it is. In regards to the Japanese educational system, I believe the responsibility lies with the government, the programs, foreign teachers, and Japanese students alike. The government moreso than the others. Being a college graduate of an accredited school and having a degree/certification in teaching English plays a crucial role as well. This, I believe is the foundation and the rest is years of experience. Like you, I have met college graduates with degrees in various prefessions that have very limited ability in their field of practice. Experience I believe plays a crucial role as well because skills not taught in the classroom are developed through contact with those with years of experience and new graduates get the opportunity to practice their skills in the community and in doing so develop more skills along the way and their own unique approach. New graduates also get the opportunity to practice their critical thinking skills as in every situation is different and therefore warrants a different approach. Thanks for your input.

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Interesting posts, one and all. What we have to realize (substitute I for we) is that this IS Japan. They have their very, very, very, very, very, very, (I'll stop here) unique/Japanese ways of doing things which run the spectrum from understandable to incomprehensible. But it works for them. They don't suffer from high blood pressure by bulking up too much on overloads of calories and consumption (the majority of them anyways), they have sensibilities not to impose their way on others (though the back side of that is they won't step out to help others). We can go on and on (I'll stop here) about the pluses and minuses of living here, but as almost anywhere else, if you have enough to get by, you'll find it quite possible to live a life as you enjoy, as soon as you get used to not being able to do things like you lived them in the place you lived before coming here.

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unsophisticated,politically backward,physically ugly(enviroment and people),xenophobic,educationally inward and shallow,culturally shallow

That description can be the same for the U.S. South.

Actually, one of the reasons why I think Japanese movies and music have been more popular is because American movies and especially music haven't been that good lately. Unlike the 1980's and 1990's when there was a lot more originality, the music of the 2000's are mostly just remakes of older songs and the charts are filled by overrated artists like Chris Brown.

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The Japanese should shun part of the American outside world.

On movies... Hollywood's political movies that are obsessed with homosexuals or protray America in a poor light are generally losers in our market. Big losers. 'Milk' for example went straight to DVD, not only because of the movie's content but because of the Americaphone actor.

Why does Hollywood keep makin' these loser at the box office movies? Because they sell big in Europe. Hollywood regularly plays to the Euro market, not the American one."

Yup, the Japanese should shun these kinds of stinkers.

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What a refreshing discussion. Thank you everyone!

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Dear All,

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the article. It's not practical to try and answer every post but I’d like to try and comment on a few.

Firstly, I thought Kato-san’s Oscar speech was hilarious and he did and a great job with his limited English. Takita-san was not expecting to win and I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to ‘wing’ an Oscar acceptance speech in a second-language. I also don’t think it’s reasonable to expect everyone to speak English. It does take a long time to be fluent in a language and isn’t necessary or practical for everyone. However, there does appear to be a decline in interest in foreign languages in Japan, at private language schools and universities, that goes beyond the declining student population. Freespeech I think you’re right, "... is slipping behind...", would be better expressed as ‘slipping further behind.’ As for the falling share in US/foreign films and music: I think an increased interest in domestic films/music/culture is a positive thing in some ways but does perhaps also indicate a declining interest in the outside world. Agreed that a lot of Hollywood ‘blockbusters’ are not worth watching and there are better films from all around the world. It is indeed ‘a matter of taste and choice in a free society.’

The article originally appeared on a US news website – www.globalpost.com – though, as it happens, I’m not American and have no desire to see the world dominated by the English-speaking cultures.

Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment,

Gavin Blair

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Wow, 1 year out of 20 in box office receipts (and 2007 of all years) is proof positive the Japanese have shunned Hollywood? Journalism wins again.

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well of course china is gonna have more english learners than JP because the number of people. as far as Us movies go who cares alot have NOT been doing good here either. during the 80's bands were exciting. todays bands are Not, Dont get me wrong, even alot of J-Rock bands sound the same. i havent bought a J-CD in a while very exspensive mainly. as far as Languages go i dont think so. Most of the JP people i meet online Most speak English/ some english. I dont think Japan is trying to "shun" anyone

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Potsu....Really?.... I mean...Really? unsophisticated,politically backward,physically ugly(enviroment and people),xenophobic,educationally inward and shallow,culturally shallow

Matey thats a lot of hostility you need to relax a little bit hey. Im guessing you havent spent that much time in other countries or perhaps yoru older and bitter and your attracting the same type of negative people. (phsyically ugly?..Really?Are you just trying to wind people up> Japanese women are the beez kneez my friend in case noone told you.)

In my experience the Japanese I met were overwhelmingly kind, generous, funny, warmhearted people once you get to know them. You have alot to be proud of. Japanese food..Hello? Beautiful landscape and incredibly safe modern cities I could go on for hours ya. Get some pride! Grab yourself a moscow mule and dont take what you have for granted! ship it

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real Japan...unsophisticated,politically backward,physically ugly(enviroment and people),xenophobic,educationally inward and shallow,culturally shallow.

You missed that Japan is filled with whingy hyprocritical foreigners who don't like how the Japanese make generalization about them but have no problems about making some borderline racist generalizations about Japan.

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Good Jorb: JUst sit back and get treated second class, you deserve it. Japanese should show the same respect to froeigners and their cultures, that they expect when the live or travel abroad.

Too many Japanophiles on here, who don't live in the real world.

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Too many Japanophiles on here, who don't live in the real world.

Couldn´t be more true than this. The funny point is that Japanese have a bad word for those foreigners who worship them...

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JUst sit back and get treated second class, you deserve it.

When I was in Japan I didn't get treated second, mostly because I was already married before I came to Japan, I was not an English teacher and had adequate enough social skills. I wouldn't that say that Japan was all fun and games and my wife and I got did get tired of certian types Japanese and certian types foriegners and we did something that apparently some here are unable to do and left.

Japanese should show the same respect to froeigners and their cultures, that they expect when the live or travel abroad.

Some do and some don't, just like some foreigners show no respect for Japan or thier culture. I just find it some what hyprocritical and somewhat ironic that that some of the foreigners who show no repect for Japan or thier culture are the quickest to complain about Japan.

Too many Japanophiles on here, who don't live in the real world.

I take it by Japanophile, you mean anyone who doesn't agree with your opinions about Japan. I am sorry if I am not some jaded foreigner, who doesn't believe that ALL Japanese are ugly, unsophisticated, culturally shallow, and so forth and so on. Again some Japanese were and some Japanese weren't, that was my reality in Japan.

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Good Jorb: I aint jaded, full of passion and drive mate. i can go to any country, i aint stuck nowhere. I am maried to a Japanese if i thought they was all ugly etc, why would i marry her and be close to her family, i aint a pillock.

Who says i don'T show respect, never got nicked or nothing and i minbd my own business unless someone pisses me or my Japanese family off.

Lots of Japanese have shown racist attitudes to me, but they can'T beat me down they are pathetic, but their mindset is probably the majority.

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I am maried to a Japanese if i thought they was all ugly etc, why would i marry her and be close to her family, i aint a pillock.

You didn't but Potsu did and that was what I was commenting on in the post which I assume you were replying to.

unsophisticated,politically backward,physically ugly(enviroment and people),xenophobic,educationally inward and shallow,culturally shallow

Who says i don'T show respect, never got nicked or nothing and i minbd my own business unless someone pisses me or my Japanese family off.

It wasn't directed at you, but at foreigners who show no respect(and there are quite a few) but expect to be treated with respect, which was somewhat my original point.

Lots of Japanese have shown racist attitudes to me, but they can'T beat me down they are pathetic, but their mindset is probably the majority.

Good on ya.

Couldn´t be more true than this. The funny point is that Japanese have a bad word for those foreigners who worship them...

What would you consider worshipping? Anyone who doesn't have the same views of Japan as you or people who go to some Japanese temple and sacrifice goats to the Japanese or somewhere in the middle?

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Some of you haters crack me up man. This site is japantoday aimed at I assume people who carry an interest in whats happening in Japan. Now different points of view are great, keeps things interesting. But there are quite a few jokers on here that seem to hate the bloody place blindly and I cant figure out why they bother coming to the site. Ive been to over 50 countries, im writing today from a city in Brazil called Santarem... trust me I think Japan is spot on for trying to keep its culture intact. Haters what can I say..STOP CRYING!

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Good Jorb: Sorry mate, i thought you was having a pop at me.

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being a foreign-born Jpnz, i have to say Japan aint all hikikomori.

if the Jpnz youth have lost interest in all things foreign, then it could be because home is more important than conquering the world.

but then, what do i know? i may have Jpnz eyes but this heart is a West-East blend.

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yes distance yourselves, but still keep in touch xD but keep away from from america.. distance yourselves!!!!! america is a bad influence, bad! very bad! they have modernised you thats great.. but american's especially there bullshit movies should be cut out of your lives!! ;DDDDD

aren't i positive ;P but maybe they might be able to bring more of there traditional things back to life by isolating themselves from the other countries.. thats all i wish ;]

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I think its just a matter of trying to believe in being apart of another world. People dont have faith in the world around them then of course they won't knwo how to except it and evolve with it... despite the superior ideals of their culture... a great psychologist and philospher once said " the robot doesn't need faith since it has no life either..."

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yes distance yourselves, but still keep in touch xD but keep away from from america.. distance yourselves!!!!!

Even though I do have my beefs with Japan. A majority of the people hating on Japan seem to be just general haters. They hate America because it dominates internationally (more than Canada, UK, Australia, South Africa), they Japan because they are second class citizens. They hate this website because it doesn't allow free speech and edits or erase anything opinions they don't like despite not breaking any rules.

They are generally unhappy people and find fault with anything.

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They are generally unhappy people and find fault with anything.

You´re wrong. I have been to a lot of countries and never felt so disattached from the locals like I feel here. Well, as I told before I came to the point of only wanting the J-money, and that´s all.

My two cents this week: A friend of mine, loving Japan, a true nice person felt like s**t when he sat next to a Japanese woman. Immediately she got up from her spot, moved some meters from him and travelled standing, meaning she is allergic to foreigners. I told him to not take this seriously, but I see his disappointment with Japan growing little by little. So sad.

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i dont find fault with much things.. just dont like america. mainly because they appear to be trying dominate the world, one country at a time.. very soon we will be called "New america" or something the way things are going lol i mean yeh.. other then that im sure america is a nice place..

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this is a great article which is obvioulsy going to generate the most comments this week. actually everyone is correct in their feedback in one way or another because its such a complicated issue. but why should japanese people who live in japan speak english? of course it would be great if the only language in the world was english, then we wouldn't have to discuss this topic. this language / culture issue also exists in other areas such as Hong Kong, its not exclusive to Japan. The only time Japanese people wish that they knew more English is when they have to go abroad for sometime on behalf of their company and then they find that they are unable to communicate. If they don't travel on business - no problem. A few years ago the French were also very proctionist regarding their language, but even they had to give in to globalization.

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America's contribution to the world has been amazing and we have all benefited in some way. When I travel to the US, as an Australian, I get treated wonderfully by every American I have contact with. Speaking the same language is a big help of course but it also reflects the positive attitude Australians have per se to the US. Australians also have a very positive attitude to Japan and understand the difficulties Japanese have because of the language barrier. Australia has had excellent business relations with Japan for sixty years. It is important for anyone in business today dealing internationally that they have a good grasp of English. It is the Universal business language. No one expects ordinary Japanes citizens to bother to learn English more than any ordinary American, Brit., or Aussie is going to learn Japanese. My dealings with senior Japanese businessmen were excellent. We have "boguns" in Australia which are an embarrassment to us through their displayed ignorant behavior. I would hate anyone to judge Australia on just on its boguns. The world is going to get much closer, the current financial crisis is because of countries taking universal steps to benefit themselves at the expense of others, e,g, artificial low exchange rates, mercantilism and fraud. We have to great care in our relationships.

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of course it would be great if the only language in the world was english

Thats kind of selfish isnt it? i know most of the population are english speakers, but other languages are unique to them and maybe it's us english speakers who should stop pressuring those who dont speak it and start learning theres? Of course it would be difficult to learn all languages but if we're visiting a place we should do as the old saying goes "when in rome do as the romans do" Just as they would try in ours.

but then again, we'd have to learn so many, and they have to learn two, there own and English, Why stress ourselves? lol like i said there language/culture is unique to them and so far most countries, including japan are being transformed into the english world and appear to be slowly changing there way of life for ours or better to say americanized. even my own conutry is being effected with that. ;]

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of course it would be great if the only language in the world was english

No it wouldn't. It would be like only ever having bread and butter to eat, only having jeans and tshirts to wear, only having one kind of music to listen to.

Variety. Spice. Life.

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Think more carefully of what it is you (so many of you ) are asking of the Japanese people. If it were asked of you & yours in your own country you would rebel against it. Japan like any other country is different to your own country, so why would you want it to be the same? When I have travelled in Spanish speaking countries I have found myself helping out the English speakers who don’t speak the language & in the process even though I have been just as much a foreigner I have been accepted by the locals in a friendly way, because I could share ideas with them in their language. My spoken Japanese is c—p, but I try & in the process so long as I act in a none intrusive & none patronising way I make friends. I never expect anybody to speak the same language as me & when they do I show them respect & give thanks because it makes my live easier, I do not just accept it as a right.

To reason that Japan is falling back into some form of isolation based on the sales of American film & music is utter rubbish. American media has become more self interested in the last few years, it is no longer relevant to the rest of the world. A general decline in anything of worth coming out of the US will result in a decline in take up in Japan. Japan is losing interest in the US. There is nothing there now that they can identify with, how are Japanese youth to identify with black or latino street gang culture? Yes some do try & are seen for the fools that they look like. When your product is no longer of interest to the buyer you do not condemn the buyer you look at what might be wrong with your product.

All the other Asian countries that are doing better with the English language fall into two basic groups, those that NEED tourism & those that are fighting hard to built international trade. They need the English language, Japan may want & some might even say need tourism, but it is not what keeps the country afloat & never will be. As for world trade, they have that & what short falls they might have they can always (as normal) buy in those people that they might need (like so many of our readers here).

Much of the above was used as a bitter pant by disappointed people that came to Japan expecting to be treated as though they were special only to find that they were treated as what they are, hire help. Many of you may think that your country is the best, & for you there is no reason for you to think anything else. But don’t the Japanese have that very same right? Who are you to say they are wrong simply because you come from some other different culture? Am I saying that the Japanese people & culture are wonderful & perfect? No way. They are people, they have their history & culture & their very own ways of doing things, as do your people & mine. Would any of you be so foolhardy & arrogant as to say that your country is without faults?

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wow grafton.. alot of reading there lol

Many of you may think that your country is the best, & for you there is no reason for you to think anything else.

I dont think my countries the best, cause its not feeling like my country much at the moment, due to changes that annoy me to the HIGHEST extent. But i know of a few thousand that do think there countrys the best.. and because of that country my country doesnt feel like it used to. ;]

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jessssicaaa at 10:50 AM JST - 20th March

“alot of reading there lol”

Sorry about that, but the level of childish Japan bashing that I read in many of the above posts had got up my nose & had to come out somewhere. There are so many perfect people around these days. You must let me how many spelling mistakes I made because I’m sure as hell not going to re-read it. As for how you feel about your own country, I feel much the same way & haven’t been back there for a long, long time. Not home any more & not missed.

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