Inclusive language in Japan

More foreign labour is needed in today’s Japan (see also our news from November 27, 2018). Moreover the country hosts increasing numbers of foreign visitors and residents. The Mainichi reported this month on the importance of so-called plain Japanese while interviewing Akira Yoshikai, head of Yasashii Nihongo Tourism Kenkyukai. With the government introducing a new skilled worker visa in April 2019 to bring in more foreign labour, “Japanese society will be more multicultural at a pace we have never experienced,” Yoshikai said. “Being able to use plain Japanese will be a must for native Japanese speakers.”

Inclusive, plain Japanese is a real help for foreign workers and visitors (e.g. talking with you taxi driver!). The Mainichi explained this language uses all three components of the Japan writing system – hiragana, katakana and kanji Chinese characters – but at a level of second- or third-grade elementary school students. Plain Japanese is spreading as a means of more inclusive communication in various situations, from disasters to tourism.

Source:, courtesy The Mainichi Japan