English edging out Japanese in science — even in Japan

A recent article in a Japanese newspaper discusses the dominance of English in the world of science, specifically in Japan. It contains this telling anecdote:

Earlier this year, the Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology and Agrochemistry revised the rules governing submission of papers to its Japanese-language journal, Kagaku to Seibutsu (Chemistry and Biology), as follows: “Papers should be those whose contents cannot be explained properly in languages other than Japanese, or those that are of particular interest to Japanese readers.”

Akinori Ota, 57, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences who participated in making the revision, says papers likely to draw attention from around the world should be submitted to its English journal, Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry.

“It isn’t that we don’t encourage researchers to write papers in Japanese. However, papers written in Japanese are not widely read overseas,” Ota says. The society has already returned some papers to their authors together with advice to write them in English. No papers that would be appropriate for publication in Japanese have been received.

(Emphasis added.)

source: Japanese scientists use English or get the silent treatment, Asahi Shimbun, November 5, 2005.

One thought on “English edging out Japanese in science — even in Japan

  1. It’s very disappointing to see a scientific journal proposing something as nonsensical as the existence of “[scientific papers] whose contents cannot be explained properly in languages other than Japanese”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>