Voices
in
Japan

quote of the day

Physics requires the ability to think creatively using mathematical formulas, so English isn't essential to pursue theoretical physics in Japan.

13 Comments

Kyoto University Prof Taichi Kugo, defending the inability of Toshihide Masukawa, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics, to speak English. Kugo translated Masukawa's speech in Stockholm into English. (Yomiuri Shimbun)

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
Login to comment

Only if you intend not to interact with people outside Japan. As my Japanese-American professor once said, publishing in a Japanese journal is the kiss of death.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only if you intend not to interact with people outside Japan

Yeah 100%. Or you can do the Japanese English. Then you can speak a recently made up language understood only by Japanese and foreigners who live here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So the guy wins a Nobel Prize, and he gets yelled at for only speaking in his mother tongue.

I get that he limits his chances in some ways, but come on. This is ludicrous.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why ridiculous? Reading literature is important part of his job. Write papers is important part of his job. Train students to be able scientists is important part of this job. And he cannot even read a written speech in English, it seriously question how he was able to do his job so far.

Not speaking about the fact that if you are a foreigner researcher here, people many times pick you if you are not able to fully communicate, make speeches, do the administration etc yourself all in Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with BigInJapan, write papers is very important for a researcher, unfortunately, in Japan there are very few people who cares about this fact, almost all of them are professor. Is amazing that this nobel prize winner can not speak english, so what kind of scientist is? or can we call him a scientist? or does he live in his japanese bubble and he doesn't communicate with his colleagues all around the world? Serious question, serious matter, may be Japanese society should take care a little bit more about this. We don't want to hear more WANDERALANDO.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Great fact based defense.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wouldn't care that he spoke Japanese but by not understanding English he is limiting his ability to keep up with a lot of the physics material published.

Of course this could mean that the guy is really bright to have gotten as far as he has...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why does Prof Taichi Kugo feel any need to defend his esteemed colleague? His colleague won a Nobel Prize! That's good enough for me. That is a personal and professional choice for Toshihide Masukawa to make about whether he wants to learn English or pursue it for professional reasons. He may do very well without it because he is again and I stress a Nobel Prize winner. Enough said.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

English speaking ability shouldn't be a requirement for a Nobel Prize in theoretical physics. He speaks the language of numbers formulas.

For those who think that English is required to "adequately" keep up in his chosen field, you need to keep in mind there is a lot of literature written in German, French, and many other languages, and the most important information is often translated from their initial source language into others, including Japanese.

If a recipient of the prize wants to speak expressively/smoothly in front to a world audience and say exactly what's on his mind in his/her own language with the aid of an interpreter, rather than awkwardly speak and read a script in a language he's not comfortable with, he shouldn't be ashamed of it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why ridiculous? Reading literature is important part of his job. Write papers is important part of his job. Train students to be able scientists is important part of this job. And he cannot even read a written speech in English, it seriously question how he was able to do his job so far.

Er..so did he get the NOBEL PRIZE because the committee wanted to be nice to him?

You seem to think his inability to read or speak in English is an indicator of his quality as a scientist. OK. Are there any other elements that could attest to his ability? Like WINNING A NOBEL PRIZE?

I understand that bilingual abilities can be useful in a field. But if you think it's a necessity to excel, well...how do you think this guy won? It's a bit bizarre to see people saying things like this about a guy who has just gotten definitive proof of his excellence as a scientist.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hmmmmmm....

The Nobel Prize is an international award.

Japan is striving to be more acceptable on the international stage.

One of their three most recent Nobel Leaureates (Toshihide Masukawa) is English-Illiterate.

English is not nonly one ot the 6 official UN Languages, it is also the #1 business language around the world.

A nutty professor decides to think with his foot instead of his brain, further showing "how far Japan has come" with regards to international sensitivity.

Interesting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Although spoken but a much smaller number of people, Japanese is a widely spoken language throughout the world. I suggest you Goggle this. Remember Toshihide Masukawa was chosen to be a prize winner, he did not choose to become a prize winner nor represent Japan. I sense a little too much flag waving nationalism on your part Blue_Tiger.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

(Shrugs) If he can't speak English, then it'd be harder for anglophone physicists and him to understand one another; however, he still has a scientific community to talk with. If there's a lot of people who speak only one language, and a lot who speak only another, then there'll be two separate scientific traditions emerging, each with their own discoveries and theories.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites