Business-Japanese proficiency test doomed by profit fall

by Mizuho Aoki and Reiji Yoshida

A major business-Japanese language proficiency test for foreigners will be discontinued at the end of this fiscal year because the endeavor has remained unprofitable, the organizing body of the exam told The Japan Times on Wednesday.

The Business Japanese Proficiency Test, run by the scandal-tainted Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, has been mainly used by corporations to measure the language ability of foreigners looking for a job in Japan, as well as by immigration officials screening foreign students applying for a study visa.

The last test will be held in November, said Kazuyuki Hanatate, a public relations official at the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, which is based in Kyoto.

The foundation has been accepting applications for the November test since July 1.

“We are sorry for causing trouble for people who have studied for the test,” he said.

The test was originally launched by the Japan Eternal Trade Organization in 1996 and the foundation took it over for ¥336 million in March 2008.

But the operation ended ¥127 million in the red in the last fiscal year, according to Hanatate.

The foundation has held the test three times since June 2009. The venues were in Japan, Thailand, India, China and the United States.

Examinees ranged between 2,800 to 3,500, according to the foundation.

The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation has been hit by various money scandals, with its former director, Noboru Okubo, charged last year with padding budgets at the nonprofit organization.

According to Hanatate, examinees for the foundation’s main kanji test decreased by about 30 percent in fiscal 2009 from the previous year.

“(The test) has been used as a standard for companies to measure Japanese-language ability, but we’d like people to use other tests for that purpose,” he said.