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If you work in Japan, how much Japanese-language ability is needed in your job?

16 Comments

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Business-level, plus a good knowledge of industry-specific terms. But those who aren't quite there are helped by others, so it's not a big problem. They can, and do, learn on the job.

Everyone should try to improve their Japanese to the level required, but it takes time and everyone has to start somewhere.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

At a university. To actually do my job, not much. To get ahead in my job, you need it. I've gotten ahead of more experienced and accomplished colleagues (ex. being given leadership / management / head of committee positions) because of my Japanese ability. Being able to speak isn't enough; keigo, reading and writing is what'll get you ahead.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Just enough to be able to order food from a nearby shokudo during lunch.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Not a single word.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Conversational

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Years ago, an American lady came to work with us. Wonderful person, she hardly spoke any Japanese, but with such an effusive, bubbly personality, with gestures, smiles and little dances, she communicated.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's not just the job, it's the mental concepts that accompany the language which make it essential to function in this society.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

On paper none, and I do have foreign colleagues who don't speak any Japanese. But if you plan for a long-term career in Japan, speaking at least some basic Japanese will help immensely. And as Laguna said, not only the language by itself, but all the cultural aspects and customs that come with it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I deal with both Japanese and foreign clients. Most of my work is in the Hokuriku and Kansi regions. Almost everything is in Japanese especially dealing Japanese town or city halls, dealing with Japanese property management companies, etc. My Japanese ciients only Japanese.My German clients my native language. Every other forergn client English.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My job requires 100% Japanese, with full understanding of every word and phrase, and full cultural fluency as well. Can't get tired listening to those long pointless meetings, either. Today's chat/messaging-heavy workplace is tougher than ever because you can't see people's facial expressions or get context.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I tried to go native after passing N1 many years ago but I found it depressing and overwhelming as speaking the language also involves expectations that you accept the cultural elements as well such as working late until the boss leaves and so on. Now I usually stick to English and use Japanese as necessary. I do enjoy Japanese Asahi news ever night.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

... if you plan to work & live in a country (not only in Japan), learn the language. After living the first 2 years, if you don't speak it OK... you are learning, after 5 years you should be able to at least be able to small talk, ordering stuff and able to communicate by some degree with any body.

Over 10 years you should be able to talk it, may be not fluently but enough to even go on full on that languange (in this case Japanese) meetings... at least be able to hear the news, understand it and be able to comment on it.

Any less than that... in my opinion you are being elitist and in some degree you are looking down to the country you are living/working.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Any less than that... in my opinion you are being elitist and in some degree you are looking down to the country you are living/working.

I agree but Japan is a unique place in which foreigners are not expected to be able to speak Japanese because it is muzukashii and a regional language.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I'm curious.

I wonder why someone gave this a minus?

Did they disagree with this? Think I was lying? Just automatically dislike Bertie? What?

“Years ago, an American lady came to work with us. Wonderful person, she hardly spoke any Japanese, but with such an effusive, bubbly personality, with gestures, smiles and little dances, she communicated.”

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I'm curious.

I wonder why someone gave this a minus?

It means you're doing something right.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

To be honest you need to speak at least N3 level in order to be able to advance in your career in Japan. Or work into an International company where the official language is English. To be honest, I don't know why anyone, including the Japanese, would like to work in a Japanese company. The work environment there is by far the worst in the world. But then again, because of their lack of English level and specially skills, few have a chance to work in really good companies in Japan such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google, which are world leaders in the best working environment.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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