A few months ago, two major companies in Japan announced that they would be holding all of their inhouse meetings in English – which the majority of their employees don’t speak – and that they would fire any workers who didn’t get their English language ability up to scratch within the next two years. Several other major companies hinted that they would follow suit. Most young and not-so-young Japanese are in a state of panic about this situation (imagine that your country had been peacefully invaded by China when you weren’t looking, and that now only fluent Chinese speakers are in line for promotion at any workplace, including your own children and their offspring). Hence, I am being absolutely swamped with requests for business English lessons. I’m giving them seven days a week, in between my cram school lessons, my housewife lessons, my mums-and-babes-lessons, and those annoying JJs. At the moment there’s a waiting list. Recently my dentist’s mother asked for private English lessons, and I had to ask her to wait until March of 2011, when I’m pretty certain that there’ll be an opening on Saturday mornings. And today, one of my young mums told me that her husband wants business English lessons from 7PM every Wednesday night. Well, Wednesday night (4PM to 10PM) is my only holiday, not to mention my treasured bookclub night when I get to meet up with other expats to talk about how to stay sane and reasonable in this crazy country. But in the interests of staying insane and unreasonable, I think I’ll just grab every opportunity as it comes, and make the most of it. After all, it’s not every country in the world that pays me 50 bucks an hour just to sit, talk in English, and smile a lot.
Only in Japan, right?