Why Most Japanese Cannot Speak English: What You Should Know Before Launching a Business in Japan

【Koshida Accounting Firm Column Date:

Hi, my name is Taisei Koshida, and I am a certified public accountant and tax accountant.


I aim to assist non-Japanese business owners who need help with reading or writing in Japanese. If you find the Japanese tax return system challenging, I can help you with your tax filings.


If you are unclear about why most Japanese cannot speak English, you might find this blog helpful.




School Education System

Most Japanese are taught English for ten years, from junior high school to university. However, the emphasis is on reading and writing, with a strong focus on grammar rather than conversational skills. Therefore, school education alone does not enable most Japanese to become proficient English speakers.


Lack of Training in Self-Expression

In Japanese social culture, self-expression is often discouraged. In addition, historically, most Japanese have not been trained to articulate their thoughts in discussion-like settings. Therefore, they tend to struggle with conversational skills, a form of self-expression, as a social manner, regardless of the kind of language.


Fear of Making Mistakes

Generally, Japanese people are highly averse to making mistakes in public. As a result, they often avoid situations where they might make errors or misunderstandings, such as engaging in English conversation. Consequently, their English speaking levels rarely improve. Those who are willing to communicate freely without worrying about mistakes, like me, are quite uncommon.




Our accounting firm has been actively assisting foreign business owners in Japan with accounting and tax matters. Please feel free to contact us through the inquiry form.

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