Japanese is a complex language with inherent honorifics conferring degrees of politeness used to address others of different social status or hierarchical relationships. The written Japanese language uses three scripts, kanji, katakana and hiragana. Although the spoken Japanese language is different from the Chinese language, between the fourth and fifth century, the Japanese borrowed written Chinese characters or kanji and further adapted them for their use. The spoken Japanese language is syllabic.

Just as in the United States, regional accents exist as well as some dialects. The Okinawan native dialect, for example, is incomprehensible to mainstream Japanese, and within the immigrant Japanese community, immigrants from the island of Okinawa often faced discrimination from immigrants from mainland Japan. Of occasional utility with respect to the Japanese language is that some Korean and Chinese elders speak the language fluently secondary to their acquisition during the time of Japanese governance of areas such as Korea, Taiwan and parts of China pre World War II.

Among the younger generations of Japanese Americans, use or knowledge of the Japanese language is rare.