Today I went for a hike in Kyoto with a group of outdoor/hiking enthuthiasts called the Ramblers. It's a Kansai-based group that organizes monthly hikes and is open to everyone. Today about 50 people showed up, which I'm told is a little smaller than usual. I was struck by the fact that of the Japanese I talked to (there were some foreigners, too), most of them seemed almost fluent or at least at a conversational level of proficiency with English. Random experiences like these make me skeptical whenever I hear someone voice the opinion that Japanese are not good at foreign languages. Based on my personal experiences, I would beg to differ.