198 Chat:  USA and Japan   060822: in Japanese, 070712: in English

Once you start living in the U.S., you’ll become aware of the fact that the country is multinational. The land is so huge that each state may feel as if it were one nation.

As you know, only Native Americans lived on this land before Columbus discovered America. After the discovery, many Europeans immigrated to the land and built up the United States, which can be called “The 2nd Europe”.  The U.S. has many states (can be called “countries”).  In general, each state is as big as a European country or bigger. Each state has different ratios of European nationalities such as English, French, and German.

For example, the majority of Minnesotans are of German and Scandinavian descent. During this winter’s Winter Olympics, a local newspaper wrote, “Minnesota is the #th (#?) country in terms of winning medals. We feel that not only some Minnesotans think of Minnesota as a country, but people in each state think of their state as a country. I think each state also has power as a country.  I can recall that a few years ago one of my friends, a Minnesotan, told me in a joking manner, “Many Minnesotans think Minnesota is a country, Minnesota.”

Here are two tables (Table 1 & 2) of the land areas of USA, Japan, and Minnesota, and land area ratios.

Table 1  Land Areas of Japan, USA, and Minnesota
Country                         Land area (Km)2
Japan:                           377,835.00
USA:                             9,629,091.00
Minnesota:                    206,188.95
The land area data are from World Atlas < http://www.worldatlas.com/ >

Table 2   Land Area Ratios: USA to Japan & Japan to Minnesota
                                                Land area ratio
USA / Japan                              25.5
Japan / Minnesota                      1.83

The numbers disappoint me, a Japanese, but they are facts. The U.S. is 25.5 times larger than Japan in the land area while Japan is 1.83 times larger than Minnesota. The following, however, is a fact that you can’t take for granted. Minnesota is part of the Great Prairies as Laura Ingalls Wilder portrayed in “Little House on the Prairie”, based on her life here. Minnesota is in the Great Plains. On the other hand, most parts of Japan are covered with mountains, and it’s obvious that the land area in Minnesota, which is used in an effective way, is much larger than that in Japan, accordingly.
To close, let me talk about globalization and a second language. While in Japan, I used to often hear the words of “Kokusai-Sei” or “Kokusai-Kankaku” (It literally means a sort of international sense).  I never hear such words in Minnesota. The reason is that the U.S. is very multinational as we described in Letter #197. I think Americans can develop an International sense on their daily lives. However, business became global, and words such as “Global Business” can often be heard, accordingly. As for an American trend on second language-interests, I think American school students haven’t studied second languages very seriously so far. I’ve heard, however, that the government recently recommended that students and young people had better learn a second language such as Chinese or Arabic, considering that business will only become more global in the future.


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