Japanese Language Data Points (and Fun Facts)

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by more than 125 million people, with the large majority residing in Japan. There are dozens of dialects spoken in Japan. These dialects typically differ in terms of pitch accent, inflectional morphologyvocabulary and particle usage. Outside of Japan, Japanese is spoken in Taiwan, Korea, China, Philippines and various Pacific islands due to Japan’s occupation during World War II.

Here is a collection of other Japanese language data points and tips to help you on your global journey:

  • Mind your manners. Japanese has an extensive grammatical system to express politeness and formality. The Japanese language can express differing levels in social status, which are determined by a variety of factors including job, age or experience.
  • Behind the name. “Japan” in Japanese means “Land of the Rising Sun.” It was believed that Japan was the first country to see the sun rise in the East.
  • Clinical trial locations. As of April 2017, there were 4,574 clinical studies being conducted in Japan. For a region-by-region breakdown, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
  • Drug approval process. The drug approval process in Japan includes a sequence of non-clinical studies, clinical studies followed by approval review, and post-marketing surveillance. The standard clinical studies include Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3. Along with this traditional drug approval route, there are bridging studies for drug approval. Once a drug successfully completes all three phases of a clinical trial, the manufacturer must file the New Drug Application (NDA) with the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA). After review and evaluation, the PMDA provides a recommendation and forwards the application for approval to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). MHLW is the regulatory authority that issues approval or rejection on the NDAs. Once a drug is approved by MHLW, it enters in the NHI list for pricing negotiations.
  • Tough to tackle. Japanese is often considered a difficult language to learn, especially reading and writing. It has three methods of writing: Thousands of Chinese characters called Kanji and two Japanese syllabaries called Hiragana and Katakana.
  • Global rankings. Japanese is the 7th most common language online. According to Internet World Stats, more than 118 million internet users are Japanese-speakers.
  • Translation tip: It takes 14 languages to reach 90% of the world’s online population: English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Spanish, German, Japanese, French, Portuguese, Russian, Korean, Italian, Dutch and Swedish. Other languages like Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian and Turkish also rank highly in terms of growing numbers of online users. (Source: Common Sense Advisory)

And for a few fun facts…

  • Aging population. Japan has the third longest life expectancy in the world with men living to 81 years old and women living to almost 88 years old. Twenty-one percent of the Japanese population is elderly (over the age of 65), the highest proportion in the world. Recently, the Japan Gerontological Society and the Japan Geriatrics Society, stated the definition of elderly should be used for people who are at least 75, rather than 65. They also propose a new term for those 90 and over: “superelderly.”
  • Work and play. Anime, or animated Japanese films and television shows, account for 60% of the world’s animation-based entertainment. Animation is so successful in Japan that there are almost 130 voice-acting schools in the country.
  • Leading the way. Japan is recognized as one of the most innovative nations in the world, leading the way in technologically advanced cars and electronic equipment. With high emphasis placed on academia and achievement, Japan has a literacy rate of almost 100%.
  • Hold the phone. Ninety percent of all mobile phones sold in Japan are waterproof because youth like to use them even while showering.
  • I’m loving it! Japan has more than 3,000 McDonald’s restaurants, the largest number in any country outside the U.S.

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