You could play on Japanese servers if you really wanted though. It feels like ping doesn't matter at all, and there's a lot of English people playing there right now, including me.
I don't understand written Japanese at all and I have been playing smoothly for two days now.
The tough part was starting out and getting things going, after that it's actually really intuitive even if you're new to the genre like me.
Thankfully, some kind guy showed me the ropes of the game, and I've been doing that to newer players I find wandering around.
That and guides on the Internet, of course. http://bumped.org/psublog/pso2-guide-list/