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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 21 language is linked with culture, whereas a means of communication implies a cultureless and neutral tool. As he argues that Japanese and English cannot be discussed under the same condition, he appears to feel that English is a means of communication, a tool, but Japanese is a language, culture. He opposes the proposal but accepts the importance of learning English. By considering that English is not a language but just a tool, it becomes possible for him to argue against the proposal and argue for the importance of English. Ito, S. (male; no occupation; no age) who opposes to the proposal, makes a similar statement: Language is a part of culture but it is important to think that language is also just a tool regarding this proposal…If by learning English, Japanese identity would be damaged, the same thing could happen to people who learn other languages. If so, it becomes impossible to gain a tool of communication with people from other countries….But English should not become an official language of Japan because that means the nation [Japan] regards the English language as part of the nation’s identity, which is a cultural and political matter. He does not simply argue that language is a tool. He also states that language is a part of culture. What he like Moritani advocates is that foreign languages should be regarded as tools in order to rationalize the necessity of learning English. At the same time he opposes English as an official language of Japan because it is concerned with the nation’s identity. He applies both ideas of language (as a tool and as culture) to the English language. He uses the idea of language as a tool in order to defend learning English and uses the idea of language as culture in order to resist English as an official language. English as an official language would not hurt the nation’s identity if the language were considered as a tool. He contends that it hurts the nation’s identity because the conceptualization of language as culture is applied in the last sentence of his quotation. Viewing the English language as a tool is an ideology of the people engaging in English language education. Pennycook (1994) laments the situation in which English language teaching

Authors: Kawai, Yuko.
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English as the second official language 21
language is linked with culture, whereas a means of communication implies a cultureless and
neutral tool. As he argues that Japanese and English cannot be discussed under the same
condition, he appears to feel that English is a means of communication, a tool, but Japanese is a
language, culture. He opposes the proposal but accepts the importance of learning English. By
considering that English is not a language but just a tool, it becomes possible for him to argue
against the proposal and argue for the importance of English. Ito, S. (male; no occupation; no
age) who opposes to the proposal, makes a similar statement:
Language is a part of culture but it is important to think that language is also just a tool
regarding this proposal…If by learning English, Japanese identity would be damaged,
the same thing could happen to people who learn other languages. If so, it becomes
impossible to gain a tool of communication with people from other countries….But
English should not become an official language of Japan because that means the nation
[Japan] regards the English language as part of the nation’s identity, which is a cultural
and political matter.
He does not simply argue that language is a tool. He also states that language is a part of culture.
What he like Moritani advocates is that foreign languages should be regarded as tools in order to
rationalize the necessity of learning English. At the same time he opposes English as an official
language of Japan because it is concerned with the nation’s identity. He applies both ideas of
language (as a tool and as culture) to the English language. He uses the idea of language as a tool
in order to defend learning English and uses the idea of language as culture in order to resist
English as an official language. English as an official language would not hurt the nation’s
identity if the language were considered as a tool. He contends that it hurts the nation’s identity
because the conceptualization of language as culture is applied in the last sentence of his
quotation.
Viewing the English language as a tool is an ideology of the people engaging in English
language education. Pennycook (1994) laments the situation in which English language teaching


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