Scoring 500 points on the TOEIC English proficiency test is a prerequisite for promotion to section chief or a higher managerial position at construction machinery maker Komatsu Ltd.

Komatsu is not alone. Many Japanese corporations use the Test of English for International Communication as a standard of assessing the foreign language proficiency of their employees.

According to the Institute for International Business Communication, TOEIC's administrator, more than 1.32 million people took the exam in 2002 in Japan.