ITOCHU Establishes Special Language Training Program for Developing People with Global Awareness

-All junior employees in HQ dispatched to China and other emerging countries-

November 24, 2010

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it will introduce a 4-6 month program of dispatching all junior employees in positions eligible for promotion to countries where Chinese and other languages (*1) are spoken, in order to give them opportunities for language acquisition. ITOCHU provides language support programs under its principle that “as a true global enterprise, ITOCHU seeks to strengthen its employees’ abilities to speak English as the international language, as well as languages spoken in China and other emerging market economies as a basis for competing successfully in the global market.” With the new program, from early 2011, ITOCHU will, primarily to China and other emerging economies, dispatch all junior employees in positions eligible for promotion. This will promote the acquisition of the countries’ languages as well as understanding of local business customs and culture, to develop future specialists well-versed in those markets.

ITOCHU has pioneered, among other endeavors, its 1999 introduction of the Junior-staff Overseas Training Program(*2), in which the Company dispatches overseas all employees in positions with prospects for promotion, by their fourth year, with the aim of improving their English-speaking ability and international outlook. As of 2010, ITOCHU has dispatched more than 700 junior employees to many parts of the world. In line with the program, it has also taken steps to develop personnel who can be active in the global market through English and other internal training programs.

In a business climate in which globalization is rapidly advancing, ITOCHU believes it is essential to develop personnel who into the future can sustain its businesses in China and emerging economies that are strategic markets of growing importance. Based on the language’s particular importance as the basis of communication and the need to shift from employees’ Japanese-English bilingualism to multilingualism, ITOCHU decided to require that employees learn a third language. The Special Language Training Program is for the purpose of mastering the language spoken in the target dispatch countries, and through contact with local people, daily lives and cultures, and through studies of local business practices, improving communication skills and the ability to adapt to intercultural environments. ITOCHU will launch the program in early 2011 and annually dispatch up to 100 employees.

ITOCHU began its business relationship with China before the restoration of Sino-Japanese diplomatic ties in 1972, and has a long history of language training in Chinese, particularly among other special languages. The ITOCHU Group’s history of dispatching employees to Chinese-speaking countries dates back to the 1980s. Since the early 2000s, some division companies that actively develop business in China have aimed to foster Chinese-speaking personnel by independently seeking to provide Chinese lessons in Japan, and since 2008 pioneering training programs for dispatching to Chinese-speaking countries junior employees in positions eligible for promotion. In 2010, the ITOCHU Group launched its companywide initiative for providing Chinese lessons in Japan. The initiatives have resulted in over 10% of promotion-eligible employees now being proficient speakers of Chinese. ITOCHU adopts “ITOCHU with a strong presence in China/emerging market economies” as a slogan. To make this even more powerful, ITOCHU will introduce the new language training program with the aim of further enhancing initiatives for employees’ learning Chinese and other special languages and raising the ITOCHU Group’s level of proficiency in these languages.

  1. Chinese and other languages
    Includes Chinese, Russian, Portuguese (Brazil, etc.), Spanish (Latin America, etc.), Vietnamese, French (Africa, etc.)
  2. Junior-staff Overseas Training Program (JOT) in HQ
    This 4-6 month, short-term overseas training program (JOT) offers three courses: English Scholarship, Non-English Scholarship and Internship. Employees will be assigned to one of the courses according to their level of language proficiency. All of junior employees in HQ will be provided with overseas training opportunities that they can take by the end of their fourth year, through JOT, overseas trainee program for a year or longer or overseas assignment as part of regular operations.