I am not sure if it is because my friend looked like a foreigner during my latest trip to Japan or sales staff are now more courageous to speak English. Even an "obaasan" (auntie) waitress could ask us "English Menu?", which was quite a surprise for me. It seems that the depreciating yen really helped Japanese tourism and the service line is finally picking up English.
Now... I wonder if that Immigration Bureau at Shinagawa has more staff who could speak English or Chinese. It was strange that nobody there could speak a foreign language although everyone who goes there is a foreigner. Luckily the forms are in English and Japanese, whew!