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Crisis in Communication: The Ominous Rise of Language Without MeaningIzumiya Kanji

The language we hear being used in public discourse in Japan seems to have been drained of its meaning. Psychiatrist Izumiya Kanji discusses how true dialogue requires respect for others and a mutual readiness to change.

The Vital Work and Challenging Conditions Faced by Japan’s Court InterpretersTakahata Sachi

When foreigners who do not understand Japanese must appear in a courtroom in Japan, they rely on court interpreters. The need for these professionals and their services is climbing as Japan’s society becomes increasingly international in nature, but the number of people willing to take on this vital work is falling. An experienced court interpreter presents the conditions faced by her colleagues today and the issues that they hope to see addressed.

The Words of Staff

Jiyū Kokumin Sha, a publisher of language reference texts, has released its highly anticipated nominees for Japan’s “Words of the Year.” Read on to learn the 30 terms and phrases that encapsulate 2017 for the Japanese public.

Japan to Start English Lessons for Third-, Fourth-Grade Kids in 2018 (News)

Tokyo, July 7 (Jiji Press)—Japan will introduce class activities using English for elementary school third- and fourth-graders when the next school year begins in April 2018, the education ministry said Friday. In a special notification, the ministry said that it will implement some measures under new elementary school curriculum guidelines ahead of schedule, including the introduction of the E…

The Language of Zen: Words for a World of ChangeMokutan Angelo

Familiar people and places surround us, but we should recognize that each encounter is different. The first of a series introducing the language of Zen through easy-to-understand manga strips tackles the phrase 一期一会 (ichigo ichie).

English to Become Regular Elementary School Subject in Japan (News)

Tokyo, Feb. 14 (Jiji Press)—Japan's education ministry released draft revisions of the country's curriculum guidelines for elementary and junior high schools on Tuesday, including adoption of English as a regular subject for elementary school fifth- and sixth-graders. Under the curriculum revision plans, a teaching method designed to encourage students to independently find problems and soluti…

Dictionary Pros Pick Their Top New Words for 2016

Two major dictionary publishers have announced their new words of the year for 2016. As the Japanese language continues to evolve, it borrows and coins new terms at a rapid clip—and these, say the publishers, are the ones most likely to stick around long enough to end up in their dictionaries.

Another Golden Year for Kanji

The year 2016 was tumultuous and unpredictable by most people’s standards. But the kanji that best represents the year, as chosen by public vote in a keenly followed annual contest, was one that never goes out of style: 金, pronounced kin or kane and meaning “gold” or “money.”

2016: The Winning Staff

Kamitteru, or “godlike,” topped this year’s finalists to be recognized as the word of the year for 2016. Other selections in the 10-strong finalist pool shed light on the economy, current events, and celebrity romances and scandals that left an impact on Japanese news-watchers—and their vocabularies—over the past year.

The Words of Staff

Once again, the publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha has selected the nominees for its “Words of the Year” award. Learn about these 30 terms that help to show how the Japanese saw the year that will soon be finished.

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