I just have watched the video clip. It's really interesting. I think Rakuten's CEO Hiroshi Mikitani is one of the best CEOs in Japan. I guess he is absolutely serious about making the company grow globally, no matter how strong would be the 'resistence'. To me, it seems the right thing to do if you want to compete in the global market.
That said, can other Japanese companies follow this? I am not sure given the low level of English proficiency among average business person in Japan. Maybe yes, maybe 10 years from now. :-)
By the way, I wonder how Chinese, Korean and other Asian countries are doing.
Other companies are already following suit. Uniqlo is switching to English-only.
Mikitani is obviously a brilliant guy, but I'm not sure this is a smart move. Its easy for these University of Tokyo guys, but what about everyone else in the company? Telling two Japanese people working in Japan for Japanese customers that they have to speak English to each other at work is excessive. It will lead to rampant inefficiencies and miscommunication.
There is also the issue of fairness. Is this a fair thing to do to the thousands of employees they already have who were never told about this requirement when they joined?
A more sensible and fair policy would be simply requiring English for new employees who work in marketing and business development. People who graduate from the top business schools in Japan and China all speak English anyway. These days its a requirement for admission.