This presentation will take up bilingual education and multilingualism in Japan by addressing two groups of leaners: Japanese and non-Japanese residing in Japan.
First, bilingual theories and hypotheses will be explored to provide the backdrop of the discussion. Part one addresses Japanese English learners, based on the data collected at a private Japanese university. The findings suggest that principles that underlie plurilingual language policy advocated by MEXT are not in line with the perceptions Japanese EFL learners have. Despite teacher interventions, the research found how hegemonic, imperialistic discourse is very much prevalent among Japanese youths, and unless this can be eradicated, plurilingual Japan would be difficult to achieve.
Part two focuses on the non-Japanese residing in Japan by exploring a Peruvian mother’s narratives in raising bilingual (i.e., Spanish & Japanese) children. Her narratives suggest that, despite the children’s potential to acquire L1 (mother tongue), L2 (Japanese) and L3 (English), Japanese schools have proven to focus only on SLA. Furthermore, it was found that school’s expectations towards minority children’s academic performance is low, far from actively promoting bilingualism if not trilingualism. It is argued that measures be taken to rectify the Japanese education system in order to realize plurilingual and multilingual Japan.