An expert panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed bolstering support for Japanese-language education in ASEAN countries by increasing the number of teachers, as more people in the region are learning Japanese.

The proposal, submitted to Abe on Monday, calls for boosting the dispatch of Japanese-language teachers by utilizing university and graduate students, as well as seniors, to work for up to one year in member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Preliminary figures by the Japan Foundation in July show many ASEAN members saw a rise in the number of people studying Japanese in 2012. Among them, Indonesia had 872,000 learners, up 21.8 percent from 2009, Thailand had 129,000, up 64.5 percent, and Malaysia had 33,000, up 44.7 percent.

As a benefit for learning the language, the panel urged the government to cooperate with domestic firms to create job opportunities for those who studied Japanese.

The 11-member panel, headed by University of Tokyo professor emeritus Masayuki Yamauchi, and whose members include director Takeshi Kitano and fashion designer Junko Koshino, also called for enhancing cultural exchanges.

The panel stressed that Japan should strengthen efforts not only to promote Japanese culture in the region but also to import that of ASEAN countries via TV programs, films and animation.

It urged the government to work hand in hand with relevant organizations in the ASEAN region for cultural preservation and inheritance.