I've been spending hours researching how to do this, and finally came up with at least part of the solution. My original thread is here:
Basically, I want a WordPress installation where the front end is one language and the back end is English. Specifically, I'm trying to make the front end in Japanese and the back end in English. I understand that there won't be any automatic translations etc, but just want the core WordPress menus and navigation in Japanese.
1. Why was the default text encoding latin1_swedish_ci rather than utf8_unicode_ci? I needed to change this in phpMyAdmin even though in the Dashboard, under Settings > Reading > Encoding for pages and feeds > it's set to UTF-8.
2. Why can't there just be a language switcher for the front/back end. I have no problem downloading .mo and .po language files and putting them in the appropriate location, however there just seems to be so many hoops to jump through.
Along with these questions and suggestions, I'm hoping this higher traffic forum might peak the interest of someone that can help with my problem of different front/back end languages. I've solved half my problem, but am looking forward for some more help. Thanks in advance.
Here is the thread: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/285010?replies=4