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アジアで育て日本語人材 / Japan-China-South Korea rivalry expands into language education


November 29, 2013 7:00 pm JST

Japan-China-South Korea rivalry expands into language education

YUICHI SHIGA, TAMAKI KYOZUKA, MANABU ITO and KEN MORIYASU, Nikkei staff writers

 

TOKYO, BANGKOK, HANOI -- Japan and its two neighbors -- China and South Korea -- tend to slug it out in whatever arena they can find. In particular, the three countries have been locked in a fierce competition for influence in Asia. It is therefore not so surprising that their ongoing rivalry is now spilling over into the area of language education.

 

     The three countries are stepping up their efforts to boost the number of people who can speak their languages in other parts of Asia. They are sending language teachers and providing financial support to promote their languages in countries like Vietnam and Thailand. 

 

     The three Asian economic powers are acting on the assumption that locals who can communicate in their language are valuable assets that underpin their international economic and cultural competitiveness.

 

     The current main target of Japan's language promotion drive in Asia is Vietnam, which is assuming growing importance for the business strategies of many Japanese companies. With the bilateral economic relations expanding rapidly, there is growing interest among Vietnamese in learning Japanese. 

 

Enthusiasm, job hopes

 

At a Japanese language class in Ho Chi Minh City offered by Esuhai, a Vietnamese company that provides human resources development services, students were brimming with enthusiasm. When the teacher asked about their reasons for learning Japanese, one student loudly said in Japanese, "I want to conduct inspections of home electric appliances." "I want to learn car coating," shouted another.

 

     Esuhai was founded by Le Long Son, a Vietnamese businessman who once learned about die machining technology in Japan.

 

 

     The company's Japanese language course is designed to help Vietnamese without any knowledge of the language acquire enough linguistic knowledge and skills to land a job at a Japanese company. Currently, some 750 young Vietnamese are learning Japanese in its classes in hopes of working for a Japanese firm.

 

     One year of learning under the company's language program enables students to understand basic Japanese, according to Esuhai. In addition to the language, students also learn about Japanese business practices such as regular morning meetings and cleaning in factories by workers.

 

     After one year of taking the course, students are sent to small and midsize Japanese companies in Aichi Prefecture and other places to obtain practical skills useful for job-hunting, such as welding and coating.

 

     Besides Vietnam's expanding economic ties with Japan, another factor behind the growing wave of interest in learning Japanese in the country is the relatively low levels of English-language skills among Vietnamese.

 

     In countries like Singapore and the Philippines, where people generally have a good command of English, it is often more efficient to adopt English as the official language of the company.

 

     In countries like Thailand and Vietnam, where knowledge of English does not go such a long way in communicating with locals, however, Japanese companies could be better off helping their local employees learn Japanese.

 

     The number of students at Japanese language schools around the world hit a record 3.98 million in 2012, according to the Japan Foundation, a government-backed institution to promote Japanese culture overseas.

 

     In terms of the number of people learning Japanese, Vietnam was eighth on the list of countries. But its population of Japanese language learners has jumped fivefold since 1998. More than 20,000 Vietnamese took Japanese language proficiency tests in the year, more than in any other Asean country.

 

     Driving the growing popularity of the Japanese language in Vietnam is surging Japanese investment in the country, which has emerged as a major alternative to China for Japanese manufacturers seeking to expand their operations into low-cost Asian nations.

 

     During the period between 1988 and 2012, Japan poured a total of $28.7 billion of investment in Vietnam on a basis of newly-approved one, more than any other country. Most of the investments were made by manufacturers. Japanese companies like Canon operate large plants in Vietnam, providing jobs to thousands of local workers.

 

     Japanese businesses offer many jobs that pay higher than English-language positions. The monthly salaries of Vietnamese workers employed by Japanese companies are $50-100 higher than what their counterparts with jobs for English speakers earn. As a result, jobs at Japanese companies are popular among young Vietnamese who see mastering Japanese as a door to lucrative job opportunities.

 

     The Japanese government and business community are determined to ride the wave, not only to capitalize on the newfound vogue that surrounds the language but also to perpetuate it as a way of extending Japanese influence in the country.

 

     Esuhai is receiving financial support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a government-affiliated entity dedicated to promoting cooperation between Japan and other countries. JICA has provided nearly 200 million yen ($1.94 million) to the Vietnamese firm as an overseas lending project.

 

Popular intensive

 

One Japanese company that is trying to accelerate the trend is G A Consultants, a staffing services provider based in Osaka. The intensive Japanese language course provided by the company at Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology is extremely popular, with 10 applicants for every seat available.

 

 

     A total of 20 students in the university's mechanical engineering and other faculties spend eight hours a day learning and practicing Japanese. A variety of materials likely to stimulate their interest are used, including "Project X," a series of documentary shows aired by Japan's national broadcaster NHK, which focuses on great achievements made in Japan.

 

     A growing number of small and midsize Japanese companies are seeking to recruit top-notch Vietnamese university students with Japanese language skills, according to a senior executive at G A Consultants.

 

     Some junior and senior high schools in the country have adopted Japanese as their first foreign language.

 

     Japanese companies are becoming increasingly eager to raise the share of Japanese-speaking workers in their local workforces. for example, about half of the roughly 170 Vietnamese employees of NTT Data's local unit can speak Japanese. Vietnamese employees with Japanese skills are "essential for our offshore development and sales operations targeting Japanese companies" in the country, said a spokesman at NTT Data. Two years ago, the Japanese system integration company started a mandatory Japanese language training program for its new recruits. 

 

     Fuji Xerox hired 10 Japanese-speaking Vietnamese for its new plant in Vietnam, which came on stream in November.

 

     Japan, however, is facing strong competition from China and South Korea in its push to promote its language in the region. In Indonesia, for instance, Japan's traditional large presence in its landscape of foreign language education is being eroded by challenges form the two rivals. A total of 870,000 Indonesian students are learning Japanese including high-school program as the second foreign language, the second largest number following that of Chinese learners.

 

     But the popularity of Japanese among Indonesian businesspeople is on the wane. The number of students at Gakushudo, a time-honored Japanese language school in Jakarta, has declined to 300 from 1,000 a decade ago. The decline could be due to a boom in South Korean pop culture among young Indonesians and China's drive to promote its language.

 

     In an effort to reverse the trend, the Japanese government and companies should increase investment in the development of Japanese-speaking workers in the country, said the head of the school in Jakarta. 

 

China pushing ahead

 

Japan is lagging China in global language promoting efforts.     

 

 

     The Japan Foundation offers JF Japanese language courses in 26 countries. But China has already built a global network of Chinese cultural centers, called Confucius Institutes, to teach the language to foreigners throughout the world. Confucius Institutes now operate in over 100 countries.

 

     The Chinese government has an agreement with the Thai government on Chinese language learning. In fiscal 2013, China sent some 1,700 teachers to the Southeast Asian country to teach Chinese, up 20% from the previous year. That represents three times the number of Japanese language teachers in Thailand. There are even Confucius Institutes in universities in Thailand.

 

     The South Korean version of Confucius Institutes is a program named Sejonghakdang, or King Sejong Institute. Under the program, launched in 2007, Korean language schools authorized by the South Korean government are eligible for annual subsidies worth 330 million won ($31,000). Currently, there are 117 Sejong schools in 51 countries and regions, with those in Asia accounting for over 60% of the total.

アジアで育て日本語人材 中韓も対抗、官民足並み 

JICA、ベトナムで学校支援 NTTデータは新人に語学教育 

2013/11/29付日本経済新聞 朝刊

 

日本と中国、韓国がアジアで自国語を話せる現地人材の育成を加速している。日本は経済の結びつきが強まるベトナムで、日本語指導から日系企業への就職まで一貫体制を整える。中国や韓国も教師派遣や語学学校の開設を進める。自国語から仕事の流儀まで理解できる人材は貴重なビジネスインフラだ。企業のアジア戦略で競争の焦点となりそうだ。

 

教室に入ると部活動のような熱気で満ちていた。「家電の検品をしたい」「車の塗装を学びたい」。講師の問いかけに各生徒が日本語で叫ぶように答える。ベトナム人材育成会社エスハイが運営する日本語学校(ホーチミン市)の風景だ。

 

 ◆朝礼から溶接まで エスハイは日本で金型技術を学んだレ・ロン・ソン社長が設立。日本語の知識がない生徒が日系企業に就職できるまでに育てる。現在、日系企業で働きたい若者約750人が籍を置く。

 

 1年後には基本的な日本語が理解できるようになるという。朝礼や掃除など日本のビジネス習慣も教える。その後3年間、愛知県などの中小企業で溶接や塗装などの技術を学ばせる。

 

 シンガポールやフィリピンは国民の英語能力が高く英語を社内公用語としたほうが効率的。しかし英語が得意でないベトナムやタイなどでは日本語を学んでもらったほうがその後のビジネスも円滑に進むとの声もある。

 

 国際交流基金によると2012年の日本語学習機関の生徒数は世界で398万人と過去最高。ベトナムは8位だが98年比で5倍になった。ベトナム人の日本語能力試験の受験者は2万人を超え東南アジア諸国連合で最多となる。

 

 背景にあるのは日越の良好な経済関係だ。国・地域別の対ベトナム累計投資額(1988~2012年、新規認可ベース)で日本は約287億ドル(約2兆9千億円)とトップ。製造業の投資が中心でキヤノンなど数千人単位を雇用する大規模工場も多い。雇用の受け皿が広いうえ英語の仕事よりも月収は50~100ドル高い。若者にとって魅力的な就職先となる。

 

 日本側の努力もある。エスハイを支援するのは独立行政法人の国際協力機構(JICA)だ。海外投融資事業として2億円弱を融資した。

 

 日本語が使えるエリート人材育成に動くのは人材紹介のGAコンサルタンツ(大阪市)。ホーチミン工科大学で同社が開く日本語講座は受講倍率10倍の人気授業という。NHKの番組「プロジェクトX」などを教材に機械学部の学生など20人が1日8時間学ぶ。

 

 大学進学率が10%未満というベトナムだが「日本語を話せるエリート学生を採用したい日系の中小企業が増えている」(GAの安藤昌明執行役員)。一部の中学と高校では日本語を第1外国語として学び始めた。

 

 企業側も自国語人材の積極採用に動く。NTTデータの現地法人ではベトナム人社員、約170人のうち半数が日本語を話す。

 

 「オフショア開発や日系企業への営業に不可欠」(同社)。2年前から自社で講師を雇い新入社員に日本語学習を義務づけ、今では日常会話を日本語で交わす社員も増えてきた。

 

 富士ゼロックスも11月にベトナムで稼働した複合機工場で早速10人の日本語人材を採用した。

 

 ◆韓流ブームで逆転 自国語人材の獲得競争が中国や韓国との間で激化しそうなのが若年人口の多いインドネシア。古くから日本企業が進出し、日本語学習者も学校で第2外国語として学ぶ高校生を中心に87万人と中国に次いで多い。しかし足元では中国と韓国が追い上げ、ビジネス人材の日本語学習意欲は低迷気味という。老舗日本語学校の学修堂(ジャカルタ)は10年ごろに1千人いた生徒が300人まで減少した。韓流ブームで若者の関心が韓国語へと移り、中国も教師派遣などで若者を取り込みに動く。

 

 学修堂の陳天香社長は「日本語人材の育成に政府・企業が資金を投じないと長期的に日本にマイナスだ」と警鐘を鳴らす。「現地のビジネス事情を理解するうえで日本語人材は大きな強み。日本流の仕事の進め方を現地社員に理解してもらう懸け橋としても期待できる」。ある日系メーカーの幹部は強調する。

 

 日本語普及機関として国際交流基金が「JF講座」と呼ぶ日本語講座を世界26カ国で開く。しかし海外100カ国超に進出する孔子学院などに比べ出遅れている。国際交流基金が日本語教師や教師を育成する専門家を世界に120~130人派遣しているが、さらなる取り組みが必須だ。


日本企業のM&A、東南アで最高に / Japanese M&As hit records in Southeast Asia

今年92件、成長市場に足場 小売り・金融にも広がる 

 

 日本企業が東南アジア諸国連合(ASEAN)地域で成長投資を加速している。2013年の日本企業による同地域のM&A(合併・買収)は金額・件数ともに最高を記録。子会社設立などを含めた日本からの直接投資額も9月までの合計が昨年1年間をすでに上回る。自動車など製造業だけでなく、金融や小売りといった内需関連の分野で巨大な成長市場を取り込む動きが活発だ。

 

 

 画像の拡大

 M&A仲介のレコフ(東京・千代田)によると、日本企業のASEANへのM&Aは16日時点で8163億円。12年年間の3.8倍に増え、過去最高だった07年(5576億円)を超えた。

 

 三菱東京UFJ銀行によるタイ大手銀行の買収(5600億円)など金融の大型案件が目立ったが、件数も92件(前年は78件)と最高。成長市場に足場を築くM&Aは、サービスや小売りなどに裾野が広がってきた。

 

 ミャンマーの日用品大手を買収したユニ・チャームの高原豪久社長は「ライバルの日本企業が進出する前にシェアを固めたい」と話す。家電量販のノジマはベトナムの同業への出資を決めた。

 

 日本企業の海外M&Aは今年、前年比3割減のペースで推移している。北米向けが7割減、景気減速懸念や尖閣問題が影を落とす中国向けが6割減の状況で、対ASEANの伸びは際立つ。金額全体に占めるASEAN比率は17%(前年は3%)に急上昇している。

 

 M&Aと現地法人設立などを合わせた直接投資の拡大も鮮明だ。日本貿易振興機構(JETRO)によると、日本からASEANへの直接投資は1~9月で130億ドル(約1兆3000億円)に膨らみ、昨年1年間の106億ドルを上回った。

 

 ASEANは、14年の成長率見通しが5.4%(国際通貨基金予測)と世界的にも高い。日本勢にとって、中国に代わる投資先としての存在感が着実に高まっている。

 

 スズキはインドネシアに1000億円近くを投じ、新工場を建設中。ASEANをインドと並ぶ「二本目の足」(鈴木修会長兼社長)にしたいとしている。イオンは20年度までにASEANで計5000億円を投じる方針だ。3~8月期決算では同地域の売上高が2倍弱、営業利益が2割弱増えた。投資と稼ぎの両面でASEANシフトを進める企業が増えている。

TOKYO -- Japanese companies' acquisitions of Southeast Asian businesses reached all-time highs this year in both value and count, a remarkable trend considering Japanese M&As dropped sharply in other parts of the world.

 

   As of Dec. 16, Japanese firms' M&As in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations reached 816.3 billion yen ($7.83 billion), nearly quadrupling from 2012's full-year figure and exceeding the previous record of 557.6 billion yen logged in 2007, according to M&A brokerage Recof.

 

   Though one big deal, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ's purchase of Thailand's Bank of Ayudhya, accounted for 560 billion yen of the total, the number of deals notched a record as well, climbing to 92 from 78 last year.

 

   Not only manufacturers but retailers, financial institutions and other services firms -- companies traditionally focusing on domestic demand -- are aggressively seeking to build a foothold in the region's fast-growing economies.

 

   "We want to secure a solid market share before Japanese rivals make inroads," says Takahisa Takahara, president of Unicharm, a sanitary napkin and baby diaper maker that bought Myanmar Care Products, a major household products group. Electronics retailer Nojima has decided to invest in a Vietnamese peer.

 

   In fact, Japanese companies' overall foreign M&As have been trending about 30% lower on the year. North America and China have seen plunges of some 70% and 60%, respectively, drawing a sharp contrast with the jump in Southeast Asia. The proportion of Asean has soared to 17% from 3% last year in the overseas Japanese acquisitions in value terms.

 

   Direct investment by Japanese businesses, which includes the establishment of local subsidiaries, is also sharply rising in Southeast Asia. The figure reached 13 billion dollars in the first nine months of this year, more than the 10.6 billion dollars in all of 2012, according to the Japan External Trade Organization, or Jetro.

 

   Asean economies are expected to expand 5.4% next year, the International Monetary Fund forecast. The region is steadily growing popular as investment targets for Japanese firms, as an alternative to China.

 

 (Nikkei)


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