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Japan opening English-speaking office to lure foreign finance companies

A lack of Japanese professionals with good enough English skills has thwarted previous ambitions to challenge Hong Kong for financial markets.

Staff Writers
1 minute read
Tokyo Tower is silhouetted against the sunrise, Nov 6, in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: AP
Tokyo Tower is silhouetted against the sunrise, Nov 6, in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: AP

When new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in his first policy speech to parliament in October that his government would pursue a range of initiatives to make Japan a major global financial centre in Asia, he was met with scepticism.

Japan’s efforts to lure international finance corporations to Tokyo have always been bedevilled by a lack of competent English speakers.

Experts have said Tokyo needs to tackle its lack of English language fluency in the workplace before foreign firms would consider opening Tokyo offices.

Now, in a new initiative Japan is opening an English-speaking support office for foreign finance firms wanting to do business in the country, reports Reuters.

Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters on Friday, “This would lead to an increase of financial capital here, which has a big meaning for the Japanese economy.”

The Financial Market Entry Office will open in January and provide assistance in English to foreign asset managers who plan to work in Japan.

“Although Asian financial markets concentrate in Hong Kong, we will make an effort to bring them to Japan,” Aso told reporters.

According to the Financial Services Agency, which is setting up the office, foreign businesses will be able to register their operations in the country in English.

Commentators in Hong Kong and Singapore say it will take a massive effort in the Japanese education system to bring English proficiency up to a level where global finance offices are able to operate as easily as in their countries.