The project brings together leading linguists and aims to promote the replacement of complicated colloquial terms with easy-to-understand language when speaking to tourists. The motivation is partly practical, but also to give tourists a more fulfilling experience and encourage them to return.
A number of tourists to Japan are able to speak the language to some degree. Dentsu notes that the main beneficiaries of this project would be Taiwanese, South Korean and Hong Kong citizens with some experience studying Japanese. Research has indicated that tourists with some Japanese ability, however limited, often prefer to be addressed in Japanese.
English and Chinese signage in the city has increased in recent years, but communication is still challenging for the majority of visitors. Japan aims to attract 40 million tourists annually by 2020, the year Tokyo is to host the Olympic Games.
The move by Dentsu to lead the improvement of services for tourists is a reminder that the company’s activities stretch far beyond its primary business of buying media, reaching into the fabric of society. An interview with the leader of the initiative will be forthcoming.