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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 20 all languages are tools. He opposes the proposal arguing: Language is not something to be studied but to be used as a doogu [tool]. We already can command a language—Japanese (for that reason, we do not have time for learning English)….we have too many things to learn in our life time. How can we waste our time for learning English? He contends that language is just a tool. Japanese people already have one tool of communication, the Japanese language, and therefore they should not waste time in acquiring two of the same tool, but rather should learn substantial things. Because English is regarded as a tool, stressing the importance of Japanese culture can coexist with supporting the proposal of English as the second official language of Japan. Shirai (male; student; 23 year-old) who is studying in Australia, supports the proposal and argues that “English is a very vital tool to communicate with many nations in the recent global world, especially in business field [originally written in English].” Later in the paragraph, Shirai also mentions that “we also need to preserve our traditional culture.” Because English is important especially for business, Shirai supports the proposal. At the same time, he also thinks it necessary and possible to preserve Japanese culture because English is just a tool. Japanese as culture and English as a Tool. Some people are strategic in their use of two conceptualizations of language: Japanese as culture and English as a tool. Moritani (male; office worker; 23 year-old) who opposes the proposal, claims: Of course nobody would doubt the importance of English when you think about the prevalence of the Internet these days. But English in this issue should be regarded as a shudan [means] of communication. It should not be a matter of ‘language’….At least for now Japanese and English cannot be discussed under the same condition. Moritani seems to regard language as culture and yet argues that English should be regarded not as culture and even as language, but as a tools or means of communication. This argument may sound contradictory because language is a means of communication. But in his conceptualization,

Authors: Kawai, Yuko.
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English as the second official language 20
all languages are tools. He opposes the proposal arguing:
Language is not something to be studied but to be used as a doogu [tool]. We already
can command a language—Japanese (for that reason, we do not have time for learning
English)….we have too many things to learn in our life time. How can we waste our
time for learning English?
He contends that language is just a tool. Japanese people already have one tool of
communication, the Japanese language, and therefore they should not waste time in acquiring
two of the same tool, but rather should learn substantial things.
Because English is regarded as a tool, stressing the importance of Japanese culture can
coexist with supporting the proposal of English as the second official language of Japan. Shirai
(male; student; 23 year-old) who is studying in Australia, supports the proposal and argues that
“English is a very vital tool to communicate with many nations in the recent global world,
especially in business field [originally written in English].” Later in the paragraph, Shirai also
mentions that “we also need to preserve our traditional culture.” Because English is important
especially for business, Shirai supports the proposal. At the same time, he also thinks it necessary
and possible to preserve Japanese culture because English is just a tool.
Japanese as culture and English as a Tool. Some people are strategic in their use of two
conceptualizations of language: Japanese as culture and English as a tool. Moritani (male; office
worker; 23 year-old) who opposes the proposal, claims:
Of course nobody would doubt the importance of English when you think about the
prevalence of the Internet these days. But English in this issue should be regarded as a
shudan [means] of communication. It should not be a matter of ‘language’….At least for
now Japanese and English cannot be discussed under the same condition.
Moritani seems to regard language as culture and yet argues that English should be regarded not
as culture and even as language, but as a tools or means of communication. This argument may
sound contradictory because language is a means of communication. But in his conceptualization,


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