Originally Posted by TokyoBayer
...One problem with become better at Japanese is that the expectations of understanding all this starts to rise. For those who are not functionally fluent in the language, they do not suppose that the person will understand which words to use, but that doesn't give you a free pass forever.
The thing with the language is that a non-native can be as fluent as, or even a better speaker (in terms of word usage and honorifics) than a native Japanese, but they would forever be treated as an "outsider", with the sole reason being that they couldn't fully understand all the customs and nuances because they are not "true" Japanese. There still remains a glass ceiling that non-natives cannot break through which leads to talented foreigners leaving for greener pastures, i.e. outside Japan.
As a side note, I am a native Japanese born in Japan to Japanese parents but received my higher education overseas. I speak fluent English and hold dual nationality, the other being Canadian. At work, the running joke is that I'm the "foreign guy".