Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 6(3), pp. 138 - 147
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2018.060305
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The Pursuit of Simplified English to Support Foreign Residents in Multilingual Japan

Sanae Saito *
School of English Literature, Tokai University, Kanagawa, Japan


Japan is a country with over two million officially registered foreigners (Ministry of Justice, 2017) [1], and this number will keep rising, and it could even rise to ten million in the future. The country of Japan has a blossoming multilingual society, where various languages are heard and spoken. Actually, the government settled on a stratagem to promote tabunka kyosei, "many cultures living together" aiming for a multicultural society in 2009. The mystique of Japanese homogeneity, however, is still identifiable. Kado (2016) [2] stresses that linguistic and social isolation that foreign residents experience should be attributable to Japanese "insularity". Furthermore, Kawahara (2007) [3] maintains that language support is essential in multicultural societies to make their lives more sound. This paper attempts to examine possibilities of simplified English to help foreign residents participate in society fully based on the findings of actual conditions of language-support services for them. Interviews with foreign residents living in a middle-sized city were conducted and the comprehensibility of public information in English provided by the local government was examined. The results indicate that most of the respondents show that although the recent automatic translation systems have made public services obtainable in different languages including English, they still experience disadvantages in communicating with Japanese people. The foremost linguistic and cultural barriers they often face include, (1) isolation from the mainstream community; (2) difficulty in understanding Japanese social systems, and (3) educational disadvantages for children such as difficulties in improving academic language skills, loss of their mother language and ethnic discrimination. In order to facilitate language support that meets the needs of foreign residents to help them participate actively in society, the results of the present study suggest that simplified English in support of foreign residents can be enhanced in multilingual Japan.

Language Support, Homogeneity, Multilingual Japan, Simplified English, Tabunka Kyosei

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Sanae Saito , "The Pursuit of Simplified English to Support Foreign Residents in Multilingual Japan," Linguistics and Literature Studies, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 138 - 147, 2018. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2018.060305.

(b). APA Format:
Sanae Saito (2018). The Pursuit of Simplified English to Support Foreign Residents in Multilingual Japan. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 6(3), 138 - 147. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2018.060305.