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'English as the Second Official Language of Japan?': Globalization, Hegemony of English, and Japanese National Identity
Unformatted Document Text:  English as the second official language 16 change the nature of Japanese people. A 5 (researcher; 36 year-old) who opposes the proposal contends that “I think it is possible that thinking in English changes the nature of Japanese people.” Watanabe (male; office worker; 29 year-old), who does not clarify his position on the proposal, argues: I think whether we like it or not, in the near future, the time when the Japanese have to stop ‘thinking in Japanese’ will come. Now the nami [wave] called globalization is coming over us. It is disadvantageous for Japanese people to think in Japanese when we communicate in English….It is necessary to discuss whether we still go with globalization even if we have to choose the English language ways of thinking over the Japanese ways of thinking. Speaking in English means also thinking in English. For Watanabe, the English language is interconnected with globalization. Globalization means speaking and thinking in English, which changes the Japanese ways of thinking. It is noteworthy that he uses the word nami or wave to describe globalization. Wave is a natural phenomenon and often beyond human control and thus stresses the inevitability of globalization. He, however, also seems to regard globalization as something stoppable. Going with globalization means switching to thinking in English but it is a matter of choice. He argues that Japan needs to decide whether to let the waves of globalization wash over the nation or do something to stop the waves and to protect the Japanese ways of thinking or the Japanese culture by building. Japanese culture needs to be changed. When people define language as culture and locate the Japanese language in a lower position than the English language, Japanese culture and cultural characteristics are seen as something to be changed. Because the issue is concerned with language, Japanese communication styles are especially targeted. Naoko (female; no surname; student; 23 year-old) who supports the proposal, argues: 5 Some participants posted their opinions anonymously.

Authors: Kawai, Yuko.
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English as the second official language 16
change the nature of Japanese people. A
5
(researcher; 36 year-old) who opposes the proposal
contends that “I think it is possible that thinking in English changes the nature of Japanese
people.” Watanabe (male; office worker; 29 year-old), who does not clarify his position on the
proposal, argues:
I think whether we like it or not, in the near future, the time when the Japanese have to
stop ‘thinking in Japanese’ will come. Now the nami [wave] called globalization is
coming over us. It is disadvantageous for Japanese people to think in Japanese when we
communicate in English….It is necessary to discuss whether we still go with
globalization even if we have to choose the English language ways of thinking over the
Japanese ways of thinking.
Speaking in English means also thinking in English. For Watanabe, the English language is
interconnected with globalization. Globalization means speaking and thinking in English, which
changes the Japanese ways of thinking. It is noteworthy that he uses the word nami or wave to
describe globalization. Wave is a natural phenomenon and often beyond human control and thus
stresses the inevitability of globalization. He, however, also seems to regard globalization as
something stoppable. Going with globalization means switching to thinking in English but it is a
matter of choice. He argues that Japan needs to decide whether to let the waves of globalization
wash over the nation or do something to stop the waves and to protect the Japanese ways of
thinking or the Japanese culture by building.
Japanese culture needs to be changed. When people define language as culture and
locate the Japanese language in a lower position than the English language, Japanese culture and
cultural characteristics are seen as something to be changed. Because the issue is concerned with
language, Japanese communication styles are especially targeted. Naoko (female; no surname;
student; 23 year-old) who supports the proposal, argues:
5
Some participants posted their opinions anonymously.


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