Multilingualism in Japanese public space - reading the signs

Peter Backhaus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper looks at multilingual signs and what these signs have to tell us about multilingualism in Japan in general. Working with a larger sample of signs collected in central Tokyo, it is shown how these signs can be read to reflect larger transformations in Japanese society and its linguistic make-up at large. Four interrelated factors are identified as indicative of these transformations: (1) favourable attitudes toward foreign languages, (2) official internationalization policies, (3) growing ethnicisation in some areas, and (4) a recent interest in Korean culture and language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-372
Number of pages14
JournalJapanese Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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