As many have seen over the past few months there has been a plethora of bad news in the media concerning some of the largest companies in Japan; JAL, Honda, and last but not least Toyota. This has happened for many reasons.
What I noticed that this “news” was not exclusive to Japan. It has been “world” news, putting Japan in the spotlight once again, only this time not for the best reasons.
The most recent case involving Toyota recalls in America was quite interesting, because Mr. Toyoda, the grandson of the founder of Toyota was asked to come and speak before congress as well as answer questions about how the Toyota recalls occurred. Of course being the leader of a worldwide company with such a noticeable brand Mr. Toyoda accepted. He did have an interpreter to translate some of his message, but at many times he spoke in English on his own. It’s impressive considering the intense pressure that he must have been under. As many news reports have stated, Mr. Toyoda was speaking before congress on behalf of Toyota Motor Corporation, but many news reports also suggested that due to all the recent bad news concerning many Japanese brands like Honda and JAL. Mr. Toyoda was in fact, speaking for ALL Japanese companies. He had the weight of the whole of Japanese business on his shoulders. Again, I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that he must have felt with so much responsibility on his shoulders, and on top of it spoke in English.
I have a hard time getting up the nerve to speak Japanese to my own wife, let alone a room full of strangers, and I feel stress just trying to write simple Hiragana.
Mr. Toyoda is the leader of a large company and has a need to speak English, and as many of my students have said, at times when they are at work they answer telephone calls from clients in English. English has been important for Japanese business for a long time, and I think that at all levels of business, entry level positions, as well as for department heads, managers and of course leaders of corporations, a certain amount of English is necessary.
It’s becoming a world where if you do any type of business at any level you will possibly need to use some English in your daily tasks.
That being said, how well you do depends on how prepared you are.
I put myself right in the same situation as a foreigner living in Japan. Japanese is a must for me, and how well I do depends on how prepared I am, and I am not prepared. I have to study more and I must study harder.