English - The Tool to Access Global Markets and the International Workforce

English - The Tool to Access Global Markets and the International Workforce

For this month’s Blog Post, I want to focus on English and the value of this tool when accessing Global Markets and the International Workforce. Many of Japan’s business leaders have expressed the need for communicative competence and essential English Language skills. International intercommunication is one of the main tools for keeping pace with the high-paced and ever-changing global landscape. Still, Japan lags behind other developed nations in English skills, ranking a mere 55th in 2020 (down 2 spots from 2019), based on the Education First English Proficiency Index (日本語版 – 世界最大の英語能力指数ランキング).

When more and more Japanese companies realize the need to access Global Markets, language ability could end up being an Achilles heel. The change to becoming a Global Company is not a quick nor easy process, and there are many barriers to overcome. And as mentioned, a major one is the language barrier – the English language barrier. The need to operate and communicate in English is a must. To overcome this barrier, Japanese companies must require English as a prerequisite to employment and advancement within the company. 


Rakuten is famous for its policy of “Englishnization,” and Softbank uses English as the primary language for all internal communications. Other Japanese multinationals such as Shiseido, Honda, and IDEC have also joined this movement to stay ahead of the curve and keep up with trending issues in the global marketplace. 

For Japanese companies, the decision to use English as the official language for internal communications is not an easy one, nor is it always met with enthusiasm. It is ever more difficult for Japanese SMEs to take on this kind of challenge due to the nature of being a local, traditional, and family-based organization. The future vision is not as in-depth as the large multinational companies and, in many situations, are just trying to survive in the present market conditions. However, due to shrinking market growth in Japan and the need to access Global Markets and acquire assets abroad, embracing English is necessary to foster further success and remain a viable company into the future.

Recently, many companies are hiring non-Japanese workers but still rely on the Japanese language ability to communicate. This action may suffice the labor shortage at present. Still, to fully resource the value of the International Workforce, Japanese companies will need to utilize highly skilled workers, not just unskilled workers. To do this, Japanese companies will need to become fully functional in English and be open to cultural differences and internal change, which hiring non-Japanese workers will bring.

Although many Japanese companies face challenges as they expand into the Global Market space, the ability to communicate in English and the need to recruit from the International Workforce remains at the top of the list. If you or your company face challenges with your efforts to embrace English and access the Global Market, GDI can help. Our GPOD (Global People on Demand) program is customizable to meet the needs of our clients and designed to offer the right talent, skills, and people to support your Global strategies. And our proprietary 5 Step Recruiting Process guarantees this. For more information, check out our website to learn more.

James  James