In a Sankei Shimbun column titled "The Cobblestones of London," UK-based journalist Nobiru Okabe reviews his assignment to the city, where he finds the diversity of humanity as resembling a "mixed vegetable salad."
Some 80% of London's current population, Okabe writes, is comprised of people originating from overseas. According to national census figures, UK-born Caucasians now account for just 44.9% of the entire population.
After World War II, Britons, disdaining physical labor, accepted large numbers of immigrants from former colonies in Asia, Africa and the West Indies, and more recently from the Middle East and Eastern Europe. These led in turn to wider diversification of English society and multiculturalism. The population problem was a part of the history of Great Britain itself, with the English spoken by the varied races jumbled to form their own distinctive dialects, thereby diversifying the English language as well.
To obtain a working visa, Okabe was obliged to take an examination in the English language. "I thought this was somewhat incongruous as similar knowledge of the language was not required when I went to study in the United States in the early 1990s; nor was it required by Russia, where I had been posted," he writes.
"Upon being assigned to the UK, however, I became acutely aware of how a correspondent should acquire the language in order to understand England.
"Prior to my assignment, while a member of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, I felt it was scandalous that foreign correspondents who could not speak Japanese, regularly filed stories that demonstrated an 'anti-Japanese' bias. It might be that if foreign correspondents were required, as a condition for issuance of their visa, to demonstrate proficiency in the Japanese language, this might lead to a better understanding of Japan."© Japan Today