Poll: About 40% of Foreign Residents Have Little Social Interaction With Japanese People

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    The Yomiuri Shimbun has reported about the results of a survey conducted among foreign residents of Toyota, a city in Aichi prefecture known for its auto factories, which employ many foreign workers.

    One thousand foreigners took the survey. The most represented nationalities were Brazilians (117), Chinese (90), and Filipinos (55). The results seem to show that many of the foreigners have little social interaction with Japanese people in their daily lives:

    Q: Do you have a regular opportunity to converse with Japanese people?

    • There are those close to me with whom I converse often.: 37.3%
    • I have friends with whom I can discuss everyday life: 21.3%
    • I have acquaintances with whom I exchange greetings: 33.5%
    • None whatsoever: 6.9%
    • No Answer: 0.9%

    The lack of social interaction could have to do with language ability. The survey also found that a significant number of foreign residents could do little more than introduce themselves in Japanese.

    Q: How is your Japanese language ability?


    • I can understand daily conversation: 40.1%
    • I can understand basic self-introductions: 26.6%
    • I can understand the news on television and radio: 17.6%
    • I can understand as well as native Japanese: 12.2%
    • I cannot understand a thing: 2.8%
    • No answer: 0.6%


    • I can have an everyday conversation: 42.9%
    • I can give a basic self-introduction: 22.6%
    • I can participate in meetings at work or school: 20.7%
    • I can speak as well as native Japanese: 10.7%
    • I cannot speak a word: 2.5%
    • No answer: 0.6%


    • I can read Hiragana (Katakana): 39.2%
    • I can read Kanji seen in everyday live such as on sign boards: 32.9%
    • I can read this questionnaire without Furigana: 12.2%
    • I cannot read a word: 9.4%
    • I can read as well as native Japanese: 5.3%
    • No answer: 0.6%


    • I can write Hiragana (Katakana): 47.3%
    • I can write short sentences using Kanji: 28.2%
    • I cannot write a word: 14.7%
    • I can write long sentences using Kanji: 7.5%
    • I can write as well as native Japanese: 1.3%
    • No answer: 0.6%

    The survey also asked the foreigners about issues that caused them concern or worry. The top answers were: health of themselves and their family (61.4%), earthquakes and natural disasters (44.2%), and lack of employment (43.6%).

    The Toyota city government told the Yomiuri that it would strengthen its efforts to support Japanese lessons for foreign residents and organize community events that encourage residents to interact.

    Update: The full survey results (including an English translation) can be found here.

    [hat tip to Ken Y-N]

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