Japanese in the Incubator
Japanese for English speakers is in the Incubator! https://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/ja/en/status
Unfortunately there are no contributors. Probably they will be added soon because I believe many people have already applied. Although I don't know if they know enough Japanese / English to be accepted. Looking at the status, it has made progress already.
Anyway, awesome to see it has finally been added.
We will have to wait and see.
Often when a course launches with no contributors, there is a post requesting people to apply. (But yeah, if they have contributors, then they don't seem to see the need to publicise it.) Also, the partial completion looks iffy.
I just think with the recent problems, perhaps the course became unhidden. There has been a hidden course for a while - someone posted screenshots a while back.
However, I will be very happy to be proven wrong.
This is the staff answer, from just a month ago, regarding whether Duolingo's software engineers are working on the problem of supporting Japanese and Chinese.
The answer continues to be that there are some very difficult problems we need to solve in order to offer these languages, and this will take significant time.
And here is what Luis wrote on Reddit just three days ago:
[...] Yes, we know a lot of languages are missing, and yes we have a plan to work on them. Doing this, however, takes time, and unfortunately it's not our number one priority. We have a team of ~80 people, and together we have to serve literally tens of millions of active users. Personally, I'd rather improve how well we teach the languages we currently have (which cover more than 80% of the language learning needs of the world), than spend time adding difficult-to-add new languages. Contrary to popular belief, while Japanese and Chinese have huge numbers of speakers, proportionally not that many English speakers want to learn them. For example, of all English speakers learning a language, ~50% are learning Spanish, ~25% French, and the other 25% is split up among all other languages (the top being German and Italian). Only about 6% are learning Chinese, and even fewer are learning Japanese.
Edit: So having read this, I was pretty surprised to see Japanese in the Incubator... But I guess the fact that it could slip into Phase 1 means that it's there being worked on in some form. It's not like back when they accidentally launched Swahili instead of Swedish because they got the codes for the languages wrong... ;-)
They are making changes to the software all the time. It wouldn't surprise me to see them testing these against a dummy course, so they can get a feel for how close they are to supporting languages like Japanese. Quite often design teams build prototypes just to improve their understanding - which may be what was done here. Either way, something like this shows interest, but not any immediate plans.
I would very much like a Japanese course, but I Imagine it will be some time.
It was like that a few weeks ago. I posted about it like you when I noticed it but after a while someone from the JA→EN team said it was a glitch and they deleted it. There are no contributors visible so this may be a glitch, too. Anyway, the fact that it happened twice recently must mean that, even if this is a glitch, they are certainly working on the course and it may be just a matter of time.