Battling the language in Japan

I would like to comment on the July 14 editorial “More people studying Japanese.” Around the world more people are studying the Japanese language for various reasons, which is good news for us Japanese. And I fully support proposals to encourage Japanese-language teachers and Japanese students to study foreign languages harder. But I would like to point out that people are studying Japanese harder than ever right here in Japan today.

The number of foreigners in Japan is 1.7 percent of Japan’s total population. In our city, Hadano (Kanagawa Pref.), they are 2.0 percent of the population. We have workers from China, Brazil, Peru, Vietnam, the Philippines and many other countries.

In order to work and live in Japan, all of them have to learn “survival Japanese” at least. Workers must acquire the communication skills required at their workplaces.

The serious problem for schoolchildren is that colloquial Japanese is not enough; they must be able to read and write Japanese. Citizen volunteers and college students are teaching them the Japanese language. Most volunteers teach not only Japanese but also subjects such as mathematics, the English language, the Japanese way of life and so on.

Must volunteers be the final answer? Foreign workers have come to our country to support our economy. How should we best support and react to their needs, including training in Japanese?

hiroshi noro
hadano, kanagawa

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.