When in Japan, learn Japanese

Tokyo

Regarding Akky Akimoto’s Oct. 17 article, “Apple should team up with local companies to solve Maps dilemma“: While I fully agree that Apple should have tested the Japanese maps better, and should customize their options more, the article mentions the fact that many available apps that are more Japan-specific don’t support English and thus aren’t good for non-Japanese in Japan.

I think this misses the point. Japan is a place where you should learn the language if you want to live there, more than most other places. Even if you can limp by in some cases, you will be constantly at a disadvantage until you learn the language — and having people “help” by supporting English is like trying to put out a blazing fire with a cup from the water cooler.

Think of it this way: Expecting a Japan-specific map application to support English is akin to expecting a U.S.-specific map app to support Chinese. Chinese people in the U.S. might love it — but they probably had the good sense to learn English before going to the U.S. anyway.

The population of Japan has less than 2 percent foreigners, and over 60 percent of those are Chinese or Korean — who are usually very good about learning Japanese before coming to Japan (or have grown up in Japan). So of the 2 percent, it’s likely around 0.8 percent of the population or less that is likely to need a Japan-specific map app in English.

The main market for such things is the main market for everything English in Japan — tourists.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

noah silva