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July 01, 2010

Japanese companies planning to make English their official language


Rakuten, the Internet shopping company, have followed Fast Retailing, the operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, in announcing that English will be their official in-house language from 2012. Some other large companies, such as Nissan, hold management meetings in English, but the announcements by Fast Retailing and Rakuten could well be the start of a new trend.

The Mainichi reports on the Rakuten announcement: 'Mikitani (the Rakuten President) remarked that he has decided using English as a common language is necessary for the company to grow into a global corporation. Rakuten has already begun requiring executives to use English at meetings and in meeting materials. Mikitani said making employees communicate in English would be needed for Rakuten to successfully expand its business operations worldwide and to hire capable employees overseas. He then hinted at the possibility of partially moving the company's headquarters' operations abroad if the need arises.

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