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It would make sense when I have Safari read Japanese text (for example on this page) by clicking Edit then Speech then Start Speaking, that it would recognize Japanese language and switch voice to a Japanese voice.

However, it reads the text in the default U.S. voice and says "Hiragana Letter Hu, Hiragana Letter...".

In the Voice Utility app, I have selected default voices for Japanese:

enter image description here

I'm sure there's a way for the System to recognize a language and attribute the appropriate Speech Voice, without changing the whole OS' language (just the same way iPod Shuffle can automatically read out the names of the tracks in different languages), but how do I do this?

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I would say this is a bug in macOS, so I've reported it.

But there's a simple workaround: use Automator to create a simple Service to speak the selected text in a voice of your choice.

automator service to speak text using the female Japanese voice

You may also want to make sure to download the enhanced quality versions of the voice you choose to use through System Preferences > Accessibility:

download enhanced quality voice

If you select some text and option- or right-click to bring up the context menu, choose the Services menu item and you will see your custom Speak (Japanese) service that you can choose to read the text in that language with your chosen voice:

custom service menu item

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