Have you ever wondered what languages are spoken in Japan, apart from Japanese?

Japan has a small proportion of foreigner residents compared to the other countries in the world and due to its geographical location and relatively little interaction with foreign countries in history, Japan has developed a strong sense of identity and culture. Perhaps also with the influence of its education, most Japanese speak only Japanese language, and are notorious for their weakness in learning foreign languages.

Nevertheless, we must not ignore the foreigners living in Japan, no matter how small the proportions are, as Japan opens its doors to immigration and tourism. Most foreigners who live in Japan gradually pick up the language naturally, as that is the only language spoken on the streets in most parts of Japan.

Let’s take a look at the languages spoken (as a first language) in Japan in the various regions of the country, apart from Japanese. (Note: This does not include English as a communication tool by foreigners whose first languages are not English.)



1. Chinese and Korean:

With a history of exchanges and immigration flows from China and Korea, it is no surprise that Chinese and Korean take up the majority of the languages spoken apart from Japanese.

2: Brazilian Portuguese:

With the end of feudalism in Japan in the late 1800s and early 1900s, poverty was rampant in the rural areas as people started to seek opportunities outside the country. The end to slavery in Brazil meant that there was a labour shortage at the coffee plantations, and the Japanese seized this opportunity and started to migrate to Brazil in throngs. The influx of Japanese migration to Brazil peaked between 1925 and 1935. In the 1980s, when Japan was experiencing the peak of its bubble economy, many Japanese-descent Brazilians started to return to Japan in waves, mainly to places in Aichi prefecture, where Toyota is situated.

3. American English:

With regards to Okinawa, there should be no surprise to the large population of Americans residing there considering about half of the US military bases in Japan are in Okinawa.

Let’s take a look at the ranking of countries of the foreigners living in the different parts of Japan.

1st 2nd 3rd
Hokkaido China Korea Philippines
Aomori China Korea Philippines
Iwate China Korea Philippines
Miyagi China Korea Philippines
Akita China Korea Philippines
Yamagata China Korea Philippines
Fukushima China Philippines Korea
Ibaraki China Philippines Brazil
Tochigi China Brazil Philippines
Gunma Brazil Philippines China
Saitama China Korea Philippines
Chiba China Korea Philippines
Tokyo China Korea Philippines
Kanagawa China Korea Philippines
Niigata China Korea Philippines
Toyama China Brazil Philippines
Ishikawa China Korea Brazil
Fukui China Korea Brazil
Yamanashi China Brazil Korea
Nagano China Brazil Korea
Gifu China Brazil Philippines
Shizuoka Brazil Philippines China
Aichi Brazil China Korea
Mie Brazil China Korea
Shiga Brazil Korea China
Kyoto Korea China Philippines
Osaka Korea China Philippines
Hyogo Korea China Vietnam
Nara Korea China Philippines
Wakayama Korea China Philippines
Tottori China Korea Philippines
Shimane China Brazil Philippines
Okayama China Korea Philippines
Hiroshima China Korea Philippines
Yamaguchi Korea China Philippines
Tokushima China Philippines Korea
Kagawa China Philippines Korea
Ehime China Korea Philippines
Kochi China Korea Philippines
Fukuoka China Korea Philippines
Saga China Korea Philippines
Nagasaki China Korea Philippines
Kumamoto China Philippines Korea
Oita China Korea Philippines
Miyazaki China Korea Philippines
Kagoshima China Philippines Korea
Okinawa USA China Philippines


With reference from: http://uub.jp/pdr/j/alienn_2a.html#2