In a context of increased internationalization and in preparation for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, in 2014 Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) released the “English Education Reform Plan” which aimed to implement English education reform through elementary, lower and upper secondary schools. A year later, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education (TMBOE) distributed the Welcome to Tokyo series of textbooks to all students at grade five and above at public elementary schools in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. The general intention was to bolster young students’ English skills. However, rather than focusing on language acquisition, critics have revealed that two main discourses are repeated throughout the policy documents issued by both MEXT and TMBOE. Namely, “developing human resources” and “nurturing Japanese identity.” Hiroshi Miyashita has argued that “careful attention should be paid to these measures because they have potential to lead students to exclusivism or even nationalism without extra care” (Miyashita, 2017). In regards to the subtext and efficacy of these policies, this paper examines the Welcome to Tokyo series. By means of discourse analysis and taking into consideration content, lexical range, representation of race and gender, word frequency and structure, I question the text’s overall suitability for effective English language acquisition in an increasingly internationalized environment. To conclude, a brief summary offering suggestions for improvement and advice for educators in this context will be provided.
Keywords: education, education data, school, education quality