Friday, August 21, 2009

The Japan Times follows the TOEIC money trail

James McCrostie has recently had two stories about the TOEIC tests published in the Japan Times. He appears to have done a lot of homework in tracking down the various players in the raveled money trail that the test takers feed.


Q Higuchi said...

Those articles are quite revealing. I mean, wow.

I have taught quite a few TOEIC courses (heck, I even took the test myself years ago), where I mentioned how much money was involved, based on a simple math; the students were invariably blown away. Now I am going to revise my material based on these articles.

Just so the title of your post is easily searchable: it's TOEIC, not TOIEC.

Brett said...

Thanks. I know the spelling. Not sure how I messed it up twice.

James M said...

Brett, Thanks for posting. Some recent updates.

1) The TOEIC SP test fee in Japan was reduced by 630 yen starting for the Sept test. I have an IIBC spokesperson on record as saying it was a decision taken in response to a Ministry of Trade suggestion to lower the fees and profits being generated.

2) The 92-year old IIBC Chairman Watanabe suddenly retired for "health reasons". However, he is still Chair of his Beautiful Aging Association and President of his law firm. He left the son of his girlfriend in charge as the new IIBC chairman.

3) I was asked to write a third article about these updates and I did. However, The Japan Times is suddenly no longer interested in publishing anything further related to the scandal. Not even letters to the editor in response to my original articles.

I'm sure the fact that The Japan Times' CEO sits on the IIBC Board of Trustees had nothing to do with killing the story just as it was getting interesting.

Q Higuchi said...

Hi James M,

That is even more revealing. I would be very interested to read your third article - please.

The Kanji Aptitude Test has gone through a very similar process, resulting in the organisation's head guy being arrested. Perhaps the Ministry of Trade doesn't want the same thing to happen to TOEIC, which involves an American organisation (ETS)? I would imagine a phone call from them would be sufficient to silence a newspaper.

James M said...


I'm currently shopping the article around to other news outlets. When/If it gets published I'll let you know.

I interpret the Ministry of Trade suggestion and the IIBC's sudden decision to lower the price slightly differently than you.

Over about a decade, the Kanji Test Association ignored 13 suggestions from the Ministry of Education to lower the price and the profits. Constantly ignoring these instructions eventually led to the raid by the Ministry of Education.

The IIBC understood that it was better to lower the TOEIC fee now and give the Ministry of Trade an excuse not to open an investigation into the accounts.

Having amakudari appointees on the IIBC Board (which the Kanji Association foolishly lacked) may also have given them inside info to help them realize it was better to lower the price sooner rather than later.

I'm also confident there was no call by the Ministry of Trade to anyone at the paper.