Yutai Watanabe graduated in 1978 from Taisho University with a BA in English studies and a minor in religious studies. He received an MA in English linguistics from Hosei University, earned credits in its doctoral programme in 1984, and subsequently was appointed to a lectureship at Rissho University. During his extended stay in New Zealand, he conducted comprehensive research in sociolinguistics at the University of Canterbury. He worked as a tenured professor in three departments at Hosei University and became the first dean of GIS in 2008. Professor Watanabe is an executive board member of the Japan Society for New Zealand Studies (JSNZS) and the Japanese Association for English Studies, and holds membership in a number of other academic associations.
Professor Watanabe is a variationist sociolinguist; his research interests lie in the perceptions of and attitudes towards a variety of English accents. His articles, drawing on his visits to New Zealand, have appeared in such journals as Te Reo (2008) and Journal of JSNZS (2017). He has a keen interest in the indexicality of L2 accents of English in the Inner and Expanding Circles. His paper in Language Awareness (2017) sheds light on this theme in the context of early 21st century New Zealand. He is currently engaged in a joint project on how Japanese-accented English has been stereotyped in entertainment media. He also works on the issues of language ideology, particularly focusing on the adoption and adaptation of the concept of English as a lingua franca in the language policy of Japan since the Meiji Restoration. Its preliminary findings have been presented at several international meetings, most notably the 24th IAWE Conference in 2019.
・Watanabe, Y. (2023). English as an international language and Japanese preference for English varieties. Cultures and Communication, 43, 31-40.
・Watanabe, Y. (2019, June 20-22). Perfectionism: A Japanese ideology towards a native-like accent in the EIL paradigm [Paper presentation]. The 24th International Association for World Englishes Conference, Limerick, Ireland.
・Watanabe, Y. (2017). The conflation of /l/ and /r/: New Zealand perceptions of Japanese-accented English. Language Awareness, 26(2), 134-149.
・Watanabe, Y. (2016). L2 ‘native’ and L1 ‘non-native’ speakers of English: A perceptual criterion of native-likeness. GIS Journal, 2, 87-105.