What Percentage of Japanese Speak English

What Percentage of Japanese Speak English?

Japan is renowned for its rich culture, technological advancements, and unique language. While Japanese is the predominant language spoken in Japan, there has been an increasing emphasis on English education in recent years. This has led to a noticeable rise in the number of Japanese citizens learning and speaking English. In this article, we will explore the percentage of Japanese people who speak English, as well as address some frequently asked questions on the topic.

As of 2021, approximately 29% of Japanese people can speak English on some level. This figure represents a significant increase compared to previous years, illustrating the growing importance of English proficiency in Japan. The government’s efforts to promote English education have played a crucial role in this upward trend. English is now a mandatory subject in Japanese schools from the fifth grade onwards, and many universities require a certain level of English proficiency for admission.


1. Why is English becoming more popular in Japan?

English has become more popular in Japan due to globalization and the increasing importance of English as a global language. Japanese businesses are expanding internationally, and proficiency in English is now seen as a valuable skill in the job market. Moreover, as Japan prepares to host major international events such as the Olympics, there is a greater need for English communication.

2. Are younger generations more likely to speak English?

Yes, younger generations in Japan are more likely to speak English compared to older generations. English education has been integrated into the Japanese school curriculum, starting from a young age. This exposure to English from an early stage has resulted in higher English proficiency among younger Japanese individuals.

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3. Are there regional differences in English proficiency in Japan?

Yes, there are regional differences in English proficiency in Japan. Generally, urban areas and regions with a higher concentration of international companies tend to have a higher percentage of English speakers. Tokyo, for example, has a higher percentage of English speakers compared to rural areas.

4. How are Japanese people learning English?

Japanese people learn English through various channels. English classes in schools, private language schools (known as eikaiwas), and online resources are popular methods. In recent years, there has been an increase in English conversation cafes, where locals can practice their English skills with native speakers in a relaxed setting.

5. Is it easy for Japanese people to learn English?

While the Japanese and English languages differ significantly in structure and grammar, Japanese people generally have a good aptitude for learning languages. However, the difficulty level of mastering English varies from person to person. Pronunciation and certain grammatical concepts, such as verb tenses, may pose challenges for Japanese learners.

6. Do Japanese people prefer to communicate in English?

Japanese people, in general, may feel more comfortable speaking in their native language, Japanese. However, there is a growing trend of Japanese individuals seeking opportunities to practice their English skills. Many are enthusiastic about speaking English as a means of connecting with people from different cultures and expanding their horizons.

7. How does the Japanese government support English education?

The Japanese government has taken various measures to support English education. The implementation of English as a mandatory subject in schools and the recruitment of Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) from English-speaking countries have been key initiatives. Additionally, English proficiency exams, such as the Eiken Test, are widely recognized and used to assess language skills.

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In conclusion, the percentage of Japanese people who can speak English is steadily increasing, with approximately 29% of the population having some level of proficiency. The Japanese government’s commitment to promoting English education has contributed significantly to this rise. As Japan continues to engage with the global community, English proficiency will remain an essential skill for its citizens, opening doors to new opportunities and facilitating international communication.

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