In a country of test-takers, the Test of English for International Communication has become one of Japan’s most recognized exams. In 2008, people in Japan paid ¥4,040 — or slightly less if their company or school paid a ¥100,000 membership fee — to take the TOEIC Institutional Program (IP) at their company or school 940,000 times. A further 778,000 test-takers paid ¥6,615 to take the TOEIC Secure Program, offered at official test centers at fixed times. Despite the test’s fame and the large sums involved, where the approximately ¥8-9 billion in test-taker fees end up remains relatively unknown.
People paid these fees to the Institute for International Business Communication, a nonprofit public-interest corporation with 156 employees that operates under the authority of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.