Kumiko Makihara “Meanwhile: English speakers are from Mars” http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/06/opinion/edkumiko.php
既に昨年12月の記事だが、http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070618/1182095918の関係でネット調べをしていて見つけた。当時話題になっていた伊吹文明発言を”a stubborn insular mentality still prevalent among Japan's elite”の現れと断じつつ、曰く、
The influential author and mathematician Masahiko Fujiwara even says that Japanese should be proud that their scores on the Toefl, the test that assesses English proficiency of non-native speakers, rank among the lowest in Asia. That is the result of the country never having been colonized nor forced to speak another language, Fujiwara writes in his best-selling book, "Kokka no Hinkaku" or dignity of a nation.
Like Japan, none of them have historical or cultural ties to the English language. China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand have all incorporated English into their elementary school curriculums.
To forge ahead, Japanese students will also have to overcome their shyness in trying out new words.
In this extremely conformist society, even children are reluctant to stand out by speaking better or worse than their peers, so few students are eager to speak up in class. It doesn't help that English instruction in schools never encouraged speaking.
But any language student knows that on the road to fluency, it's no shame, no gain.
Makiharaさんの立場は基本的に英語ができないと日本はグローバリズムの荒波の中で〈負け組〉になるぞというものだが、上の引用にもあるように、英語教育によって日本人のshynessと日本社会のconformismを突破しようという考えもあるらしい。ここら辺に関しては、terracaoさん*2は何かしらwhat to sayがあるんじゃないかと思う。
Considering Japan's economic prowess, and how many Japanese travel and work overseas, the country has a surprisingly low level of fluency in English. So rare is fluency here that my father was nicknamed "the alien" for speaking English and being Westernized. And this was in the 1990s, when he was the president of a major Japanese trading company where most of his business was conducted in English.