Reason goes beyond just “Because I like Japan.”

Learning a foreign language requires a tremendous amount of time and energy. Obviously, those who make the commitment to do so are hoping for some kind of payoff, which is where Japanese Twitter user @346marine became confused.

@346marine has an American acquaintance who’s studying Japanese. However, in a pessimistic manner that’s not uncommon among Japanese people when talking about their own country, @346marine mused that his friend might be better served by studying Chinese instead, on the assumption that in the future China will become an increasingly important socioeconomic leader in comparison to Japan.

But his friend remains firm in his decision to study Japanese, because, in his words “Chinese people talk to me in English, so I don’t have to learn Chinese,” implying that, conversely, his primary reason for studying Japanese is because Japanese people tend to have a much lower level of English proficiency.

This prompted a large number of likes and retweets from other Japanese Twitter users who shared @346marine’s reaction of rueful embarrassment at Japan’s infamously low foreign language skills. “China is really doing great in the field of English education, so Japan has to step up its game too,” chimed in one commenter.

However, not everyone agreed with 346marine’s friend’s logic. “Most of the Chinese tourists I’ve come into contact with can’t speak English, and instead rely on smartphone translation apps to communicate,” said one dissenter.

It’s also worth noting that @346marine doesn’t specify where his Japanese-learning American acquaintance lives, but @346marine himself seems to live in Japan, and tweets exclusively in Japanese. As such, it’s quite possible that his friend lives in Japan as well, meaning that he’s had much more contact with Japanese locals living entirely domestic lifestyles, while his interactions with Chinese nationals have been with those who travel or do business overseas, and thus comparatively predisposed to be able to speak at least a little English.

Still, if this encourages @346marine to polish his own English skills, so much the better, even if his friend is willing to willing to take point on establishing a common language for the two of them to communicate in.

Source: Twitter/@346marine via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso

Follow Casey on Twitter, where someone in college told him he should study Chinese instead of Japanese too, but he didn’t listen.