When Japan’s new National Stadium was unveiled last month, visitors were greeted with several examples of oddly worded English on the signage there: “Hello, Our Stadium,” “Joho no Niwa” and “Please Push the Under Button,” were but some of the phrases.
Given that the stadium is intended to put Japan's best face forward to the world at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and that more than a billion dollars was spent building it, you have to wonder why apparently so little thought was given to how the English signs would come across to native speakers.
It's hardly unusual to find strangely worded or even unintelligible English on the signs, menus, websites and documents that make up Japan's corporate world. The question is, in a country famous for tight quality control and attention to detail, where English is a compulsory subject at school and where many native speakers — ones who presumably could be consulted for even the quickest proofing — are within reach, why do so many organizations persist in using poor English? Who writes it, and how does it get approved for use?