With 2020 Tokyo Olympics close at hand, Japan is starting to change its English education. In April of 2011, the Japanese government has put it into effect with one English class a week, total of 35 hours per year for 5th and 6th grades in public elementary schools. Later on in 2013, the government decided to lower the starting year of English education to 3rd grade on the government curriculum guideline and add this subject on the curriculum of 5th and 6th grades as one of the required subjects. The government plans to accomplish this project in all of the public elementary schools by 2020.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is considering the low level of English among the Japanese as a serious problem. In 2015, the government performed CRFR (CEFR score level has 4 stages, from lowest rank A1 to best rank B2) on about seventy thousand high school seniors in the process of examining its international level of 4 English skills: writing, listening, reading, and speaking. The majority of the Japanese scored between lower rank level of A2 and A1. 29.2% in writing and 13.3% in speaking were even left blank. As of TOEFL, Japan is lagging way behind other 30 Asian countries. In 2010, its score of the Japanese was in 27th place, while Korea took 10th, and China took 16th place.
It is said that the introduction of two English classes in 3rd grade weekly curriculum of Korean elementary schools in 1997 resulted in the recent development of English skills among Korean teenagers. It is indecisive to determine whether early English education in Japan will bear good effect, or cause nothing but confusion.