Japanese Language Education
The Japanese language education overseas deepens the understanding of Japan and plays an important role in the creation of a foundation for friendly relations between Japan and foreign countries as it helps cultivate the individuals who will take up exchange with Japan. Presently, more than 2.98 million people in 133 countries and regions are studying Japanese (figures gathered by the Japan Foundation for 2006). The number of Japanese language students in the world has increased by more than 20-fold in the past 30 years. In recent years there has been a diversification of student's reasons for studying Japanese. It is no longer the case that students study Japanese only for practical purposes such as for a study abroad or to find employment, the number of students who study because of an interest in pop-culture, anime and manga, or due to a desire to understand a different culture, are increasing.
The Government is working to promote the spread of the Japanese language. Through the Japan Foundation, it is dispatching Japanese language education specialists overseas, carrying out training within Japan for overseas Japanese instructors and students, donating and developing Japanese language education materials and holding Japanese speech contests at overseas diplomatic establishments. In 159 cities within 50 countries and regions across the world, it is holding the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (approximately 500,000 people took the test in 2007). The Government is broadcasting a video program aimed at young people, "Erin's Challenge! I can speak Japanese," through NHK and overseas television stations. It is planning to further expand its airtime in the future.
Furthermore, in order to promote the spread of Japanese as efficiently as possible in each country, the Government will develop the "JF Nihongo Network" (also known as the "Sakura Network"), a network connecting more than 100 locations worldwide, centering on the overseas offices of the Japan Foundation and the universities to which Japanese language instructors are being dispatched through the Japan Foundation.
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