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Back in the bubble period, I was able to get a job at a Japanese bank in Tokyo with language skills that were intermediate at best. With a lot of intensive effort (and classes kindly paid for by my employer) I was able to improve quickly and was eventually writing reports in Japanese.

Looking at the non-Japanese working in Japan today, however, I see a lot of people who are coming into their jobs in Japan with much higher skills than I had when I started out. And I often hear job-seekers wondering how much Japanese they really need to work in Japan.

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