Language policy hurts children

Hiroshi Noro hits the proverbial nail on the head by pointing out in his July 18 letter, “Battling the language in Japan,” that people at present are studying Japanese harder than ever right here in Japan.

I write from the perspective of a native English-speaking resident of Japan for whom a great majority of people living in this island nation — natives and nonnatives alike — would consider it ludicrous to even apply for any position other than English teacher.

Not being considered for a job because of the primary language one speaks is discriminatory and should not be allowed. The problem takes on greater proportions, though, when the many immigrants and refugees from other countries of the world are taken into consideration.

Noro correctly emphasizes the real tragedy: Those who suffer most from this lack of perspective are children. The government had begun to seriously look at the problem of immigrant children from countries such as Brazil, many of whom are prevented from attending school here because of the barrier posed by the inability to provide instruction in their language. That was before the merry-go-round of heads of state created a spectacle on the world’s stage.

It is terribly sad to see that with a growing decline in the productive working population and an increasing influx of immigrants from other countries, Japan’s language policy has been left lagging. As the world’s population grows larger, Japan’s grows smaller. Policymakers cannot afford to neglect language planning as they prepare for the increasing need to look outside to provide for the country’s needs inside.

chris clancy
shiojiri, nagano

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.

  • McMm

    When one moves to a country is advisable to learn the language instead of complaining that everybody else doesn’t speak your language.