Take notes. Lots of them. Every night for years, Koichiro Naganuma, president of Asatsu-DK Inc., the nation's third-largest advertising agency, has written memos on newspaper articles. The nightly routine helps him a great deal -- especially when asked for comments by foreigners.

"Americans and Europeans don't want to ask me about the world markets," Naganuma, 59, said. "They want to ask me about Japan. I make myself ready to speak off the cuff about what is going on here."

Naganuma's first exposure to the "world" of English came while attending a summer school in the United States during his junior year at Sophia University.