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Friday, 29th August 2014
In General Japan News,

English zones to be introduced across Japan

English speakers holidaying in Japan may find they are afforded a little extra knowledge about the local culture thanks to new "special English zones" to be implemented in large cities across the country.

The idea comes from Tomomi Inada, the strategist behind the "Cool Japan" concept that aims to portray the nation as a trendy tech-savvy destination for tourists keen to see the quirky side of the culture.

'Special English zones' is one of 35 concepts that have been proposed in order to help Japan deal with the tourist influx that the nation can expect when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics arrives.

The zones themselves will have English and Japanese designated as their official languages, with initiatives planned to encourage people to speak in both on a daily basis. For example, any companies within the zones that adopt English as their working language would be eligible for tax deductions.

Rather than being a one-way street with visitors speaking in English learning about Japan, the aim of these proposed areas is to encourage cultural exchange, thus strengthening the country's multiculturalism in advance of the grand sporting event that will see thousands of international visitors descend on the capital.

Tourists generally have little issue travelling in Japan, with accommodation services and tourist attractions generally employing people who speak at least a basic level of English. In other areas such as train stations, they may have to go to a special desk where they are guaranteed to find an English speaker.

However, although this is true of tourist hotspots such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara, it may not necessarily be the case in other parts of the nation, particularly in rural communities. If travelling to any of these, it might be wise to learn a few stock phrases or pick up a phrasebook on your way out.

Related news stories:
Proposals under way to change English teaching in Japan (23rd May 2013)
Japanese employees offered financial incentive to learn English (15th January 2013)
Japanese firm announces English plan (1st July 2010)
English-language lessons for Japanese students 'from 2013' (2nd January 2009)