If the narrow view of studying English, for many Japanese, is simply to read texts and write English exams, then I would say, why study English at all? If English is not to be applied in some way by the people studying it, it is simply a waste of time. If the purpose of studying English is only to read texts and write exams to get into high school or college, as some readers have stated, then I would say it is a complete waste of time.
However, if someone was to take a broader view of the reason for studying English — as a way to broaden education horizons in Japan or allowing Japan to become more in tune with what happens outside its borders, including greater participation in the global economic and political communities — then I would say it is as important to speak English as it is to read and write it.
sOne point that deserves mention is that Japan is the only country that speaks and uses the Japanese language. Therefore, if Japanese people have any interest in anything beyond the borders of Japan, some understanding of foreign languages is required, including a spoken element. Although English may appear to be the most logical language of choice to study, it shouldn’t be the only foreign language considered.