When Pham Quang Hung started studying Japanese at Foreign Trade University in Hanoi in 1994, he never imagined that Vietnamese children would one day be able to learn the language in elementary school.

Now the first secretary for educational affairs at the Vietnamese Embassy in Tokyo can hardly wait to see the launch in September of a pilot project to offer Japanese lessons at three elementary schools in Hanoi.

It will be the first time that Japanese language education has been offered at the publicly run primary school level in Southeast Asia, according to Japanese officials.