E-commerce giant Rakuten has managed to do what the educational system apparently can't — get Japanese people to speak English competently. After years of Rakuten building the English level of its employees, Chief Executive Officer Hiroshi Mikitani noted recently that the effort has finally paid off.

Recently, the firm announced that the average employee's score on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) reached 802.6 points out of a possible 990. That's up from 526.2 in 2010, an advance that most students and employees in Japan would be proud to have achieved. A score above 800, according to TOEIC, indicates advanced proficiency.

Of course, test results are not everything. But Mikitani has based his company's global expansion on employees following an English-only policy, which the company calls "Englishnization." All meetings, presentations, documents, training sessions and emails inside the company are conducted entirely in English. More than almost any other company in Japan, Rakuten has radically transformed its corporate policies — indeed its corporate culture — to embrace English as its working language.