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January 24, 2005

Let Us Guide You

The government has announced plans to make it easy to qualify as a professional foreign-language guide as part of its plan to increase the number of foreign tourists. There are plans to waive part of the exam for applicants who have passed Level 1 in a test run by the Society for Testing English Proficiency or hold similar qualifications. The existing licensing system will also be replaced with a registration system. In 2004, the total number of foreign vistors to Japan exceeded 6 million for the first time, but the government's target is 10 million by 2010. Last year, only 5.3% of 6,300 applicants passed the rigorous examination administered by the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, bringing the total number of licensed guides to a little over 9,000.

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