I'd be willing to put money on more than a few developers being able to speak better English than many of their native English speaking customers.
You are right. I really have no idea the extent of their English ability. Maybe they do have good English skills because of the internationalization of the coding/programming interfaces and lexicon, or even as a hobby. Regardless, it might be safer to assume that the director and department heads, who we know have limited English, are wary of any feedback that might go over their head and require the devs to express, causing the feedback to go up the chain of command rather than down. Due to the language barrier and cultural norms in Japan, I just can't imagine any real structure or scenario allowing for significant NA participation early on. I would be interested in hearing some thoughts however.
Anyone who posts anything at these sites about the beta places themselves under suspicion of breaking the NDA, and would be wise to think twice about doing so.
This, in addition to the burden on the fan sites. I would expect all of these sites with direct contact from SE have been informed of their duty to curb unofficial leaks. SE has been reaching out to the NA sites in regards to FFXI for a while now, and that goodwill has generated a great deal of positive information exchange and actual changes in the game. It would be unfortunate if we lost that trust and our voice due to frequent violations of the NDA by NA players.
I can see having different beta test groups based on region as well, but it doesn't make sense to have the JP and NA beta start at different times. SE has stated they're working on the different versions simultaneously (and will also be released simultaneously).
That is based on the assumption that there are different versions of the game. Localizing to a particular language doesn't necessitate much programming, just substituting test in the code, so may not be seen as a different "version." I wouldn't assume SE is all of a sudden going to start bringing NA players into the mix just to cater to a particular (and significant) fan base. SE has always been very secretive of their beta testing for FFXI. Most all of it is in-house with part-time employees doing small scale projects. (Check their JP website for year-round employment ads for testers in the Tokyo area.)
I think it is important to realize that SE will insist on building the game the way their directors have visualized it, with little deviation. Once the base game is built and working, bringing in JP players to balance the gameplay and other aspects that the directors intended would seem logical. Then near the end of beta, invite the horde of international players to stress test and publicize. I realize the development of FFXI was different in timeframe (open in JP first, then localized), but there is little reason to believe that SE would change up their pattern for releasing practically all their large-scale games.