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It could be said that English is one of the most familiar languages in the world
due to the recognition of English as a global language. In addition, English might
be the second language to which people frequently listen in their daily life except
for own mother language. For example, a lot of Japanese singers use English
lyrics in their song, and some of them sing all of the songs not in Japanese but
English. According to Rampton, the data which some Korean and Japanese
singers mix Korean and English or Japanese and English in their song was
indicated (Rampton 1995 cited in Kachru, 2006). In addition, the research of
Moody showed the number of songs which contained English lyrics from the
Oricon weekly top-50 charts of 2000 in Japan, and about two-thirds of J-pop were
used English words (Moody, 2006). Therefore, it could be said that English has
taken root in Japanese pop music.

The purpose of this research explores Japanese international students attitude

toward English words in Japanese pop music and to what extent English pop
song are popular for them. Furthermore, the reasons for English words being
used in Japanese pop music in the survey takers prospects would be carried out
from this research, and the result would be compared with some existing research.

2.Existing Theory
According to Abley (2008), English works as a design element in Japan. In
addition, when the author asked the reason why Japanese painter used English
in his work to a Japanese director in a museum, the answer that English give a
feeling of distance (ibid). Although the authors point was about art, it could be
said that the reason of using the English word in songs by Japanese singers
might be applied to that conjecture. Moody pointed out that the work of English
word in J-pop may not have to mean and it might be just an obscure thing (Moody,
2006). The opinion of Moody is similar with that of Abley in that English is
recognized as a design element because both of them consider that English does
not perform a linguistic function but something like decoration.
On the other hand, there is some different opinion why J-pop used English lyrics
frequently. According to Stanlow, it was concluded that use of English words by
Japanese female singer-songwriter happens when they want to express their
emotion in their song (Stanlow 2010 cited in Lee, 2006). J-pop and J-rock are
influenced a lot by Western style, therefore English words are found a lot from
there (Moody and Matsumoto, 2003). Pennycook also consider that the function
of English lyrics might be mimetic or symbolic especially Japanese Rapper
despite that they imitate American rappers style (Pennycook 2003 cited in CHAN,
2009). Lee pointed out that using English also can play a role in smooth cultural
exchange because English is the second intelligible language for non-native
English speakers (Lee, 2006). There are several persuasions about the use of
English word in J-pop, and it is difficult to decide which one is the main reason of

This researchs target is 6 international Japanese students who have studied in
higher education in the UK or the USA. In addition, their age is from 25 to 26
years old, and students who have studied in the USA have lived in there from the
age of high school, and one of them graduated from high school in Singapore.
Therefore, their music which they listen frequently might be different with the
other students. The research asked some questions in interview style, and only
one student who studies in America was interviewed via Skype. The question 2
and 4 are multiple choices, and the other questions require students opinion, and
that is why I have chosen interview style which I can avoid misunderstanding their
views and ask about an answer in greater depth if necessary. However, the
sample in this research is extremely small, and the range of age is also a
limitation. Moreover, some students prefer to listen to music such as Jazz or
instrumental music, and it means that they are not so familiar with pop music in

Interestingly, almost all of people have listened to both of J-pop and English
pop song, but five of them listen to English song more frequently than J-pop, and
only one person who is studying Master in the UK university preferred listening
Korean and English music more than J-pop in the question 1. In addition, when
they asked which countries English pop music they listen frequently, everyone
was not fussy about that, and some of them do not recognize which countrys
English pop music which they listen in daily. However, no students who like J-pop
the most, and everyone has different music preference such as Jazz,
instrumental music, EDM, Korean pop music, R&B and foreign Rock music. In
the result of the question 2, four people feel nothing about that Japanese singers
use English lyrics in their songs, but the rest of them consider that it is strange or
nonsense. All students pointed out firstly that Japanese singers might think that
use English in a song is cool in the question 3, and some students provided a
similar additional explanation which Japanese see English in a special light or
admire. There is also a different explanation which J-pop imitate English pop song
a lot, therefore, Japanese singers use English lyrics. The students who answered
negatively to the question 2 agreed with that Japanese singers should not use
English words in the question 4. However, the person who answered Feeling
nothing in the question 2 partially agreed with the question 4, and rest of two
people disagreed with that. There were different opinions in the question 5 asked
the reason why the people who agreed with the question 4. For example, one of
them answered that use of English lyrics is unnecessary, and the other students
think Japanese singer should use Japanese words or it is difficult to understand
what they sing because almost all Japanese singers do not pronounce English
correctly. In addition, one student added a comment that Japanese singers
should appreciate the value of Japanese, and they should express the goodness
of J-pop by Japanese lyrics.

The result of research showed that Japanese who have experience of studying
in higher education in abroad tend to be uninterested in J-pop, and almost all of
them prefer English music. It is difficult to identify the cause of the result, but
various factors might work to the answerers choice of music. According to
Ferreira and Waldfogel, local culture tends to get negative impact from distant
and large economies, particularly the US throughout the development of
globalization (Ferreira and Waldfogel 2013). Other researchers also considered
that using English as globally means that owing pop culture such as English pop
music, Hollywood movie, or cable television has a big influence and spread easily
to abroad (Bamgbos 2001 cited in Omoniyi, 2006). In other words, there is no
answer that J-pop is the most preference music in the answerers music
preference due to the diffusion of English pop culture. Furthermore, recognition
of English as global language also affects the popularity of English music in the
research. On the other hand, there is a different question why Japanese singers
use English words for their work. The research of Ferreira and Waldfogel (2013)
found that non American singers in Europe copy American music style because
popular music genre such as R&B, Pop or Rock is leaded by American musicians
(Ferreira and Waldfogel, 2013). Moreover, Moody and Matsumoto (2003) found
from the research which focused on only J-pop that J-pop and J-rock imitate
English pop and rock, therefore J-pop contains English words. These opinions
are reflected in the answerers consideration of J-pop which is many of Japanese
musicians try to imitate to English pop music. On the other hand, Stanlaw (2005)
pointed out that English has an important role in J-pop, and Japanese singers
use English words when they express a social consciousness and social
commentaries. However, every answerer in the research seems not to capture
English words like that presumption, and most of the International Japanese
students attitude towards English words in J-pop was an unconcern, but only two
students who study in America were negative attitude against them. It cannot
identify the reason why their attitude is different, but the latter students answered
that they consider lyrics are important for song regardless of musical genre.
Consequently, the different attitudes towards English words in J-pop among the
students could be found, and the result of the research might be affected by
individual music preference and way of listening music.

In conclusion, it could be said that the recognition of English as global
language might assist using English lyrics in J-pop, and some popular genre
music like pop or rock is led by English singers is also one of the reasons as
well. Therefore, a lot of Japanese pop singers use English words in their work.
Although there are various opinions about using English words in J-pop, J-pop
was not popular compared with English pop, and the Japanese International
Students tend to be unconcerned about English word in J-pop except two
students in America. In addition, the research also found that half of the
students considered that Japanese singers should not use English words
despite the result about the uninterested attitude to English lyrics in J-pop.


Abley, M. (2008) The prodigal tongue: Dispatches from the future of English. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

CHAN, B.H.-S. (2009) English in Hong Kong Cantopop: Language choice, code-
switching and genre, World Englishes, 28(1), pp. 107129. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-

Ferreira, F. and Waldfogel, J. (2013) Pop internationalism: Has Half a century of world
music trade displaced local culture?, The Economic Journal, 123(569), pp. 634664.
doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12003.

Kachru, Y. (2006) Mixers lyricing in Hinglish: Blending and fusion in Indian pop
culture, World Englishes, 25(2), pp. 223233. doi: 10.1111/j.0083-2919.2006.00461.x.

Lee, J.S. (2006) Crossing and crossers in east Asian pop music: Korea and
Japan, World Englishes, 25(2), pp. 235250. doi: 10.1111/j.0083-2919.2006.00462.x.

Moody, A.J. (2006) English in Japanese popular culture and j-pop music, World
Englishes, 25(2), pp. 209222. doi: 10.1111/j.0083-2919.2006.00460.x.
Moody, A. and Matsumoto, Y. (2003) Dont touch my Moustache: Language
blending and code Ambiguation by Two j-pop artists, Asian Englishes, 6(1), pp. 433.
doi: 10.1080/13488678.2003.10801106.

Omoniyi, T. (2006) Hip-hop through the world Englishes lens: A response to

globalization, World Englishes, 25(2), pp. 195208. doi: 10.1111/j.0083-

Stanlaw, J. (2005) Japanese English: Language and culture contact. Hong Kong: Hong
Kong University Press.


1. What kind of music do you listen the most frequently? Also, could you pick up three
music genres you listen the most frequently, and write in the order to decreasing

2. How do you think Japanese singers use English word in their songs?

1. Feeling nothing

2. Cool

3. Bit strange

4. Very strange

3. What do you think the reason why some Japanese singers use English in their work?

4. Do you agree with that Japanese singers should not use English in their work?

1. Agree

2. Partially agree
3. Partially disagree

4. Disagree

5. If you agree with the question 4, could you write reason?