Embracing Imperfection: The English Language and Japanese Fluency


In the ever-changing landscape of global economies, Japan faces a shifting position, with China and Germany surpassing its economic standing. However, amidst this transformation, Japanese professionals have a secret weapon that can immediately impact the global positioning of their companies—the English language.

Also Read: Empowering Knowledge: Rabbi Shalom Rosner to Lead JCT’s English-Language Beit Midrash Program

Laura Kriska, the founder of WE-building Solutions, highlights the untapped potential of English proficiency among Japanese businesspeople. Despite extensive language study, many professionals experience discomfort when speaking English, leading to missed opportunities and hindered global market understanding.

The Perfection Paradox

The fear of imperfection in English fluency often leaves Japanese professionals paralyzed, limiting their participation in English conversations and interactions. This reluctance to embrace imperfect communication can result in missed opportunities, strained relationships, and substantial avoidable costs.

Lessons from China

In contrast, Chinese businesspeople, regardless of their English proficiency, adopt a more forgiving approach. Their willingness to communicate in English, even imperfectly, positions them advantageously in global business contexts. This stands in stark contrast to Japan’s focus on outdated tests measuring knowledge rather than effective communication.

Overcoming the Barrier

Kriska advocates for a mindset shift among Japanese professionals—a move away from perfection in spoken English to embracing more frequent, imperfect interactions. Daily greetings, learning colleagues’ names, and initiating small talk can serve as the foundation for building trust, exchanging information, and advancing business goals.

Breaking Down Language Barriers

The reluctance to use English in business situations can lead to communication breakdowns, as illustrated by examples of Japanese managers isolating themselves from English-speaking staff. The impact of this avoidance can be severe, resulting in misunderstood goals, wasted efforts, and, in some cases, financial losses.

A Strategic Imperative

As Japan strives to bolster its global competitiveness, the utilization of imperfect English becomes a strategic imperative. The focus should shift from achieving perfect pronunciation to fostering daily, imperfect interactions that build trust and enhance communication in international business contexts.

The Road to Resilience

In a world where economic uncertainties and crises are the norm, the adoption of imperfect English becomes a powerful tool for building resilient, productive, and agile organizations. These small, daily interactions will accumulate over time, creating lasting dividends regardless of economic fluctuations.


Embracing imperfection in English communication is not just about language; it’s about building relationships, trust, and global competitiveness. The time is now for Japanese professionals to recognize the strength of imperfect English as a tool for navigating the challenges of the 21st century. By doing so, they can contribute to the creation of organizations that are not only prepared for crises but poised for lasting success on the global stage.

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