• Kyodo News


A 14-year-old boy has become the youngest licensed bilingual tour guide on record, the Japan National Tourism Organization announced Friday.

Junior high school student Shintaro Iwai of the city of Kumamoto beat the old record, held by a 15-year-old, by succeeding on his second attempt at the English-language exam. He was 14 at time he applied but has since turned 15.

The exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of Japan, including geography, history, economics, politics and culture, in addition to linguistic skills.

“I can’t describe how happy I was,” Iwai said of clearing the exam, which has a pass rate of around 13 percent. “In the future, I want to work using English.”

Iwai, now in his third year in junior high school, lived in the United States for 3 1/2 years because his family had moved there for business.

He was exempt from taking the writing section in the preliminary exam because he had already passed the EIKEN English proficiency test’s Grade 1 exam in the first year of junior high school.

But the knowledge section of the test required him to study at a higher level than his junior high school geography and history classes, he said.

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