An Alternative Approach to Foreign Language Education in Japan with a View toward Becoming a Multicultural Society

  • Mitsunori Takakuwa
Open Access


In compulsory education in public schools in Japan, foreign language education formerly began in lower secondary schools in principle. From 2011 it was introduced in elementary schools as well. Thus Japanese students in public schools are supposed to have the chance to learn foreign languages for at least several years during their compulsory education. Nonetheless, in reality, their choices are limited: they can learn only English, not other foreign languages, under the current national curriculum. English education is the foreign language education provided in compulsory education in Japanese public schools, and other foreign language education has been neglected. However, Japanese society is not as ethnically homogeneous as it has appeared to be (Burgess, 2007; Okubo, 2008; Tsuneyoshi, 2004). There are about two million foreigners registered in Japan, and more importantly, they are from various countries and regions, including where English is not primarily used (Ministry of Justice, 2012). Thus it can be said that Japan has now become a linguistically and culturally diverse society. Should we still continue to adhere to the “English education only” policy?


Foreign Language Target Language Compulsory Education Japanese People Foreign Student 
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© Mitsunori Takakuwa 2014

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  • Mitsunori Takakuwa

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