English, Please: Rakuten Bans Japanese As Corporate Language From Internal Meetings

I know we’re a tad late on this, but Japan’s No. 1 e-commerce company Rakuten announced earlier this week that all internal meetings will be held in English from now on. To say this is rare move for a Japanese web company (or any kind of company) would be a big understatement.

Rakuten has ramped up its internationalization efforts considerably in the past years, opening offices in a number of Asian countries, Europe, and the US. It made headlines just today with the $250 million acquisition of Buy.com, a California-based shopping portal with a large American and European customer base.

Rakuten said all formal internal meetings will be conducted in English to reflect the company’s latest efforts to enter overseas markets more aggressively. Some meetings, for example those on board level, were held in English since January already. But now Japanese will be banned from formal meetings at department and section levels as well.

The company also said that even if all employees present at those meetings are Japanese, using English will still be a must. Rakuten currently employs over 6,000 people worldwide, about 5% of whom are foreigners.

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Dr. Serkan Toto is a German based in Tokyo. Like us, he is passionate about introducing Japanese IT to the rest of the world. Full-time, Serkan works as an independent web industry consultant for hedge funds, venture capital companies and start-ups worldwide. He is also a writer for mega tech blog network TechCrunch, covering Japan-related technology and web trends. This is Serkan's website. Follow Serkan on Twitter here.

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Serkan Toto

Dr. Serkan Toto is a German based in Tokyo. Like us, he is passionate about introducing Japanese IT to the rest of the world. Full-time, Serkan works as an independent web industry consultant for hedge funds, venture capital companies and start-ups worldwide. He is also a writer for mega tech blog network TechCrunch, covering Japan-related technology and web trends. This is Serkan's website. Follow Serkan on Twitter here.

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