Greetings this first day of 2019! What a wonderful way to start this new year: a social media as a window to Japan for folks overseas and a hub for learners of English language and culture for the locals. I focus more on English as a global language. With the influx of foreign workers in Japan starting the new fiscal year in April, I hope the language will not be a big barrier. The Japanese government requires language proficiency test for their imported workers but this is far from reality to meet the big demand to fill their labor shortage.
So few foreigners pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Tests (JLPT) that someone said in jest, “Japanese is the most difficult language in the world!” (My early encounter of foreign missionaries here shared around this joke, “It’s the devil’s language that we wonder why we need to learn it.”)
Tourism in Japan is booming though…If most countries attract tourists to boost their economy, the locals are NOT really prepared nor enthusiastic to see throngs of “aliens” roaming around their peaceful, clean and harmonious neighborhood.
In the global survey, Japan ranked #29 as the choice for foreigners to seek job opportunities. Language is the biggest problem here and its immigration policy not to bring expatriates’ family members just all the more discourage the foreigners. I don’t want to sound political here nor create hot discussions. The fate of Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi, and his assistant Mr. Kelly scared to death the white collar foreign laborers. The blue collar workers maybe deemed less educated so how would they fare in the very difficult local’s lingo especially the technical vocabularies.
Both sides must adjust! I believe the English language is a simple yet workable measure for the locals and internationals to understand each other, to communicate their differences and to cooperate in various endeavors. Learning a foreign language is not the end itself. It really works wonders and I’m a living testimony as a “gaijin” (foreign) resident in Japan for almost 27 years now. Yours truly is a non-native English speaker and writer and I’m more proficient in other languages. I may not have mastered the English language and culture yet but it’s a joy to teach it with a deeper purpose. Hats off to my fellow Assistant Language Teachers/Assistant English Teachers and those who took and even will take the challenge to establish English schools and “gakudo” (after-school institutions).
Let’s journey together. Today through this blog is a first step. I’m keeping my faith.