Because of the ongoing surge of globalization in Japan, the number of foreigners living in the country is increasing. So is the boom in enthusiasm among Japanese for studying English. However, while increasing numbers of Japanese have been learning English for many years, there are still not very many who can speak it fluently, even now. One of the main reasons for this is that most ordinary Japanese have very few opportunities to mingle with foreigners in their daily lives.
Since it is not necessary for most Japanese to speak a foreign language, English lessons tend to be like those of hobbies such as piano and dance lessons, rather than being for actual practical use. This is partly because most information from abroad is promptly translated into Japanese. Although it is often not profitable for countries with small populations to translate foreign news, it is in Japan, where more than 100 million educated people live in a highly developed culture. In spite of the populace speaking a language that is different from most others, up-to-date information from abroad is available to most Japanese.
In more multicultural countries such as America, language is the only way to communicate one’s will to others. It can be said that saying “I love you” is almost a cultural norm used by people who feel the need to express these words. On the other hand, in the island nation of Japan where the population is essentially a mono-cultural race, people exhibit a cultural characteristic in which they can make others tacitly understand their thoughts without using many words. So, that is why Japanese become hesitant and shy when speaking spontaneously with foreigners.
That does not mean that Japanese dislike talking with foreigners. Instead, they are rather expecting to be spoken to by foreigners.