Monday, July 16, 2012
From here in Spanish:
Japanese authorities will consider whether to include Spanish as an optative language in the national university entrance exam, after receiving a joint request from all the embassies of Latin America and Spain in Tokyo. The initiative, coordinated by the Instituto Cervantes in Tokyo, seeks to give an academic character to Spanish, which is currently offered in 240 Japanese universities. This number is still well below the 536 that offer French classes or the 525 that offer German.
The request was delivered to the Deputy Minister of Education Takashi Kii by a delegation compased of the director of the Cervantes Institute in Tokyo (Víctor Ugarte) and ambassadors and diplomats from 19 Spanish-speaking countries. The petition noted that Spanish, the official language in 21 countries and spoken by 500 million, "is the second language of international communication in the world after English and the second most spoken language as a mother tongue after Chinese."
At present the university entrance tests in Japan only offer the choice of English, French, German, Chinese and Korean as foreign languages. In secondary schools in Japan the presence of Spanish rose by 263% between 2003 and 2009, compared to 96% for German and 191% for French, but still far from Chinese and Korean (no numbers for these two given).