This is well-written about how expats would feel after spending many years in a foreign country. Since I have also lived outside of Japan for nearly 6 years, this essay is very persuading to me. The funny part about this essay is a paragraph that describes Japan as "the last remaining place you can feel truly foreign in the world"
The most generally satisfying experience of foreignness?complete bafflement, but with no sense of rejection?probably comes still from time spent in Japan. To the foreigner Japan appears as a Disneyland-like nation in which everyone has a well-defined role to play, including the foreigner, whose job it is to be foreign. Everything works to facilitate this role-playing, including a towering language barrier.
I laughed a lot. This is painfully true. After visiting more than 20 countries and spending several years, I have come to the conclusion that Japan is so unique that no other country is alike. This uniqueness was brought by the geographical isolation, the huge market with purchasing power, and the language barrier.
Chikirin, one of the most popular Japanese bloggers, showed in her recent post her optimistic view on Japan's future. According to her entry, there are three reasons why she believes in Japan's bright future:
1. Uniqueness of Japan is valuable
2. Younger generation is increasingly more excellent than the elder
3. The global economic center of gravity is shifting toward Asia
However, she did not forget to mention that even though Japan owns numerous aspects of its valuable uniqueness, Japan has been failing to turn it into money effectively so far. I believe that the fundamental reason why it happens resides in Japanese's lack of communication skills with outsiders. The language barrier, that is, lack of English proficiency of Japanese people, plays an important role. Most Japanese including intectuals are monolingual and so myopic. They don't know and are not willing to know what is happening outside of Japan. Naturally, they can't imagine how outsiders look at Japan. Japanese people don't know what foreigners find valuable in Japan and what they don't.
Japanese need to learn how to communicate with outsiders. Japan used to be called "the factory of the world". It has completely become a past. New industries with high added value often involve services(not goods) and languages, communication and media often play a critical role. We Japanese need to be more proficient in English to work with non-Japanese people. When these conditions are met, Japanese economy will be properous again like the past glory days.