Japanese Language Education
May 21, 2019
Japanese language education overseas plays an important role in deepening the understanding of Japan overseas, cultivating individuals engaged in exchange with Japan and creating bases for friendship with other countries. Presently, more than 3.66 million people in 137 countries and regions study Japanese (figures gathered by the Japan Foundation for 2015). It is no longer the case that students study Japanese only for practical purposes such as for a study abroad or to find employment. More students learn Japanese, because of an interest in Japanese pop-culture, such as anime and manga, or due to a desire to understand a different culture.
The Government, in cooperation with the Japan Foundation, works to promote the spread of the Japanese language overseas. Through the Japan Foundation, it is dispatching Japanese-language education specialists, inviting overseas Japanese instructors and students to training programs in Japan, developing Japanese language education materials and holding Japanese speech contests at overseas diplomatic establishments. In 249 cities within 85 countries and regions across the world, it is holding the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (approximately 1.01 million people took the test in Japan and overseas in 2018). It also addresses the needs of those who don’t have chances to learn Japanese-language because of the lack of institutions offering Japanese language education nearby and the shortage of time to learn at such institutions by offering the Japanese language learning platform, “JF Japanese e-Learning Minato” from 2016.
Furthermore, the Government, through the Japan Foundation, develops the "JF Nihongo Network" (also known as the "Sakura Network"), a global network linking the core Japanese-language institutions and teacher associations in order to promote the spread of Japanese language efficiently. The “Sakura Network” consists of 292 members worldwide (as of May 2019).
In addition, Japanese citizens called “NIHONGO Partners” have been dispatched to educational institutions such as local high schools mainly in Southeast Asia by the Japan Foundation. “NIHONGO Partners” assists local Japanese teachers in Japanese class as well as introduces Japanese culture to students. 1,860 Japanese citizens have been sent as “NIHONGO Partners” until FY 2018. The number of “NIHONGO Partners” continues to expand over 3,000 in total by 2020.
【Support for Tokyo-based diplomats in learning the Japanese language】
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted to launch a Japanese language program for the members of the diplomatic missions in Tokyo and their families in March, 2019, in cooperation with a group of diplomats, Embassy staff, the Japan Foundation, volunteer instructors as well as the Minato International Association. The opening ceremony and orientation meeting were held on March 22nd, 2019.