The abiding belief among some native English speakers in Japan is that Japanese people need to use more English instead of sheltering in the comfort of a mother tongue barely spoken beyond their archipelago.

Many Japanese people seem to feel the same, fretting about their low English proficiency and inability to communicate with foreigners. Commentators bemoan the failure of the country’s education system to create competent English speakers and blame it for Japan losing international competitiveness and geopolitical relevance.

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