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August 01, 2011

Torikai, Akashi at odds on use of English at Rakuten

Rakuten's adoption of English as its official language is dividing opinion amongst leading educators. Kumiko Torikai, dean at Rikkyo University's Graduate School of Intercultural Communication commented: "It seems strange to me that a Japanese company would make English its official language that every worker has to use.That could jeopardize thinking, which is done in each person's mother tongue. Torikai continued that while it was reasonable to use English at a meeting where most participants do not understand Japanese, "Why do they have to speak in English when all attendees are Japanese?"

However, Yasushi Akashi, former undersecretary-general of the United Nations, said more companies should make English their official language. Now chairman of the International House of Japan, Akashi said, "It is important to speak English in a way that others understand. Plain English is enough."

According to the former U.N. official: "Progress in learning a language is like going up stairs, rather than climbing a slope. You may feel frustrated when you hit a plateau regardless of how much effort you make. But as you continue working, you will find yourself on a higher stair."

See also:
Original article in the Nikkei
Interview with Kumiko Torikai
International House of Japan
Yasushi Akashi

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