I spent six years living in Japan about 20 years ago - I spent a lot of time studying and learning the language, which I do not use now virtually at all, even though I am specialist on the Japanese economy. I can say the same about others I know well above Level One and even able to do legal work in Japanese.
My advice is learn Japanese up to about Level 3. This is the essential stuff you have to know. After that you can improve your proficiency like any other language - speaking it and reading it. Do NOT spend time studying for Level One and Level 2. You learn Japanese after a certain level by doing something else. Do not go to Japan or stay a lengthy period of time in Japan to learn Japanese. This is not a good reason. My advice is do not stay in Japan for more than two to three years at one time.
Becoming really good in any language is difficult - I am experiencing this in my new country - France. Japanese has some unique difficulties - which I think relate to nuance - not things like grammar and Kanji. However, I think in most cases, people worry too much about mastering languages - and its totally unnecessary. Just enjoy getting better and using what you know.
In sum - if I was to do it again, I would have spent much less time in Japan and just being happy with the level I already reached after about 1-2 years.
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