The first test of 2013 Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) was held in July 7, 2013. The JLPT is conducted overseas by the Japan Foundation under the collaboration with concerned institutions in the countries and regions. This year it was conducted in the 101 cities in 21 countries and regions and approximately 200,000 examinees took a test. In addition, the Preliminary results of the "Survey on Japanese-Language Education Abroad 2012" were released in July 8, 2013 the day after 2013 JLPT was conducted. The Survey shows that the number of Japanese-language learners abroad is approximately 4 million in 136 countries and regions around the world. The "Survey on Japanese-Language Education Abroad" conducted by the Japan Foundation every three years revealed that the number of Japanese-language learners has increased by more than 300,000 and there has also been an increase in the number of Japanese-language institutions and instructors, compared to the previous 2009 Survey. From the standpoint of the two facts, it seems like that the learning of Japanese-language is taking root abroad and growing steadily.
However the Survey has found that the situation is not always positive due to the fact that many countries are working hard to promote their own languages because the more globalization is advancing, the more the languages other than Japanese are getting focused. Under this circumstances, it is noticeable that the pace of Japanese-language learners grow is showing signs of slow down to the level of 9%, declined from 20% level in the previous 2006 and 2009 Surveys. The number of Japanese-language learners has increased in 77 countries and regions and it has decreased in 61 countries and regions, compared to the previous Survey. Secondary School (High School and Junior High School) students account for more than half of approximately 4 million Japanese-language learners. In other words, the number of Japanese-language learners will depend on what the system in the country and region's Secondary Education is like (e.g. how much foreign language study is encouraged, and what language courses are offered for the students to study, and so on). Therefore once the system has been changed, the number of learners tends to rise and fall sharply. Furthermore, the number of language teachers cannot satisfy the growing demand at some schools where Japanese-language learners are increasing, and in some cases, teachers whose Japanese-language ability and teaching skills are not sufficient teach at schools. In the light of circumstances overseas, we as the Japan Foundation considers it will be increasing the demand for our effort to create an environment for the learners to find it easy to study Japanese-language by conducting training course to maintain and improve the quality of teachers as well as by creating and providing educational materials in order to respond to the learners' interest and expectations.
People overseas are learning Japanese-language to deepen the understanding of Japanese society. The Intellectual Exchange programs conducted by the Japan Foundation are designed to share the knowledge and experience in order to find the solution on the common challenges between Japan and other countries. For example, as globalization involves movement of people, the local, national, and regional efforts are essential to focus internal diversifications and promote multicultural symbiosis. Based on the "Intercultural City Programme", the program of the Council of Europe, to promote developing the city by dealing with the diversification, the Japan Foundation has been organizing various opportunities on the theme of "Intercultural City"/"Tabunka-Kyosei." in 2013 in order for communities to be vitalized by diversification. In July 2013, the Japanese and European experts gave seminars under the cooperation with municipal bodies including Nagoya, Kobe, Fukuoka, and Shinjuku.
The Japanese culture and arts appeal people and raise their awareness. The Japan Foundation and the Odawara Art Foundation will present the world premiere European tour (Madrid, Rome and Paris) of the Ningyo Joruri Bunraku (Japanese puppet theatre) performance "Sugimoto Bunraku Sonezaki Shinju: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki" from September to October, 2013. Hiroshi Sugimoto, an artist active at the contemporary art, will be in charge of the coordination, direction, stage design and images. The work will not omit a part of original as many Buranku do nowadays, it follows the original quite well to ensure that people in Europe to be attracted and enjoy.
For "La Biennale di Venezia" (Venice International Biennale) art exhibition awarded two years in a row at the International Architecture Exhibition and the International Art Exhibition, Kayoko Ota is appointed as the Commissioner for Japan pavilion under the theme of "A Storehouse of Contemporary Architecture" to track the evolution of national architectures in the last 100 years.
As a host of Japan Pavilion, the Japan Foundation is currently in preparation for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale to be held in June, 2014.
The Japan Foundation will promote a range of interchange programs for mutual understanding among the people of the world and constructing an amicable relationship.
We would like to thank you for your continued support of the Japan Foundation.
The Japan Foundation