Could manga help spread the Japanese language and boost the economy?

In Other News - July 31st, 2013
John Soqquadro studying the Japanese Language

One Piece manga comics are perhaps not the first things one would pick up when trying to learn the Japanese language. Odds are you’d learn a phrase that’s completely out of context – except maybe in a one-dimensional world.

But with Japanese pop culture making waves overseas, the idea of promoting the study of Japanese language through animated films is gaining traction, a panel of experts has suggested.

Japanese cultural officials take spreading the language seriously as the nation seeks to shore up business and educational links with fast-growing economies in Southeast Asia.

Under new proposals made to the Japanese government, chat rooms will provide learners a chance to chat in Japanese while study materials that make use of Japanese anime would be developed to make language more accessible, and according to Kyodo news, the Foreign Ministry is taking note.

The proposals were apparently reported to Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in an initial budget for the new fiscal year from April 2013.

Various groups are a step ahead, using chat rooms and anime in teaching Japanese, though the concept has not previously gained too much traction in the mainstream or been taken seriously outside educational circles.

In one growing South-East Asian economy, Indonesia, the influence of Japanese pop culture has risen, propelled by fascination with manga and Japanese animated films among the country’s youth.

According to the Japan Foundation, a government cultural promotion body, the number of Japanese language students in Indonesia has tripled in the past six years to 872,000, more than in any other country.

Indonesian high school students are also eager to learn the language which they see as the key to getting jobs at Japanese companies.


by Maesie Bertumen


Image: John Soqquadro studying the Japanese language/Flickr