Learn to speak English, or else!

That's the message for employees of Internet services company Rakuten, Inc. Back in May, the company announced plans to adopt English as the company's official language by 2012. That means all meetings and communications within the company would be conducted solely in English.

Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani added more details in an online interview June 16 with business publisher Toyo Keizai. He created shock waves in the media when he indicated that company executives who failed to master English in two years' time would get the chop. Not that the lower echelons can rest easy, either: Employees lacking requisite language skills may be held back from promotion.