Geographic distribution

Although Japanese is spoken almost exclusively in Japan, it has been and sometimes still is spoken elsewhere. When Japan occupied Korea, Taiwan, parts of China, the Philippines, and various Pacific islands before and during World War II, locals in those countries were forced to learn Japanese in empire-building programs. As a result, many elderly people in these countries can speak Japanese in addition to the local language. Japanese emigrant communities (the largest of which are to be found in Brazil sometimes employ Japanese as their primary language. Approximately 5% of Hawaii residents speak Japanese[citation needed], with Japanese ancestry the largest single ancestry in the state (over 24% of the population). Japanese emigrants can also be found in Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Australia (especially Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Cairns), the United States (notably California, where 1.2% of the population has Japanese ancestry[citation needed], and Hawaii), and the Philippines (particularly in Davao and Laguna). However, their descendants, known as nikkei (??) rarely speak Japanese fluently after the second generation.

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