Global Growth Opportunities for Japan

welocalize July 27, 2021

Japanese is Welocalize’s most requested language for translation, with over half a billion words processed in 2020. But with a language that’s only spoken in four countries, why is the need for Japanese content so high?

Japan is one of the world’s most literate and technically advanced nations, and has given us many prominent, global companies such as Toyota, Honda, Canon, Mitsubishi, Nintendo, Panasonic, Nikon, and many more. These famous brands, alongside its economic stability make Japan the third largest economy worldwide, with GDP expected to reach 5.6 trillion by 2024.

Japan is also leading the way in innovation and technology developments – it is one of the top three countries for patents filed, making up 9.6% of the total patent applications in the world.

Despite only being spoken in four countries: Japan, US, Brazil, and Guam, and being the official language of one country, Japan, there are around 126 million native speakers worldwide, making it the 13th most spoken language in the world.


Here are five interesting language facts about Japanese:


1. The Japanese Alphabet

There’s actually three! The Japanese Alphabet is made of up of three writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji used in combination with each other and differs from other languages as it is made up of 47 basic characters, rather than letters.


2. Low English Proficiency

According to EF English Proficiency Index, native Japanese speakers have low English proficiency – ranking #55 in the world. Studies estimate that less than 30% of the Japanese population speak any English.

Simply put, an English approach is not an option for Japanese speaking markets.

Culturally adapting and localizing content into Japanese is a necessity for global businesses to gain a foothold in the local markets and maximize sales in Japan.


3. Fastest Spoken Language

Japanese has been found to be the fastest spoken language in the world. According to a 2017 study, it has a rate of 7.84 syllables spoken per second!


4. Language Difficulty

Japanese belongs to the Japonic language family and is considered to be one of the most difficult languages to master. This is particularly the case for native English speakers, which is a Germanic language, due to the vast distinctions between the language families. In fact, up until recently, Japanese was considered a language isolate – unrelated to any others.


5. Top 10 Ten Languages Online

Japan has one of the highest number of internet users in the world, with around 93% of the population having access to the internet. What’s more, Japanese is one of the top 10 most used languages online, accounting for 3% of the entire population.

This offers huge potential for investment in e-commerce, but to ensure your content will be heard in a busy online marketplace, use of the Japanese language and knowledge of the local market and culture is key to reach your target audience

Further reading: Global E-Commerce: What’s Influencing Digital Content Strategy?


It’s clear to see that Japanese offers great opportunities to increase global growth and it’s crucial for businesses to adapt their content through translation and localization to maximize sales.

To find out more about Welocalize’s multilingual content solutions, connect with us here.