Yano Research and Japan METI’s numbers on the English teaching industry in Japan

Picking up from the other day’s post.

The numbers that we have to work with are, per Yano Research, the size of the foreign language teaching industry in Japan (which mostly equates to teaching English in Japan):

For “FY 2005”: 826 billion yen
For “FY 2008”: 767 billion yen

These come from the recent Japan Times article.

For specifically, Eikaiwa, I am going to use these figures.

February 2006: 17.2 billion yen. (Divide this by 28 and multiply by 365 to give you: 224 billion yen).

February 2010: 5.7 billion yen (Divide this by 28 and multiply by 365 to give you: 74.3 billion yen).

Where do these numbers come from? The happen to come from the same Japan Times, but an article from just the day before, again about GEOS. The source is obviously the same METI data referenced by Adam Richards at Mutant Frog, since you can look those months up at the link at his site.

One thing I will say, is that the (high) February 2006 number is a bit of an outlier. The average in calendar year 2006 is 11.371 billion yen, or 136.452 billion for the full year. But I don’t know if Fiscal 2005 per Yano is:

January 2005 to December 2005; or
April 2004 to March 2005; or
April 2005 to March 2006.

I’m guessing it’s the third one, in keeping with Japanese government style. So the Japan Times’ February 2006 cite is going to be matched to Yano’s FY 2005, (even though I think it overstates Eikaiwa).

For February 2010, I am going to use Yano’s FY 2008 number, compared to METI’s February 2010 one. I am more comfortable with this, since in the data series, once Nova disappeared, the remaining businesses really did turn into a 72 to 79 billion yen a year thing. So what they were doing in February 2010 is pretty consistent, revenue-wise, with what had been going on before. Also, it’s almost peak-to-peak. If you take full year numbers, you see that Eikaiwa never did a February 2006 again—even back when Nova was still in. The recent peak was actually January 2010 (6.967 billion yen, or 82 billion annualized on a 31-day month), but I don’t have any figure to account for the GEOS bankruptcy.

So subtracting out METI from Yano for “Feb. 2006” you get:

826 billion minus 224 billion = 602 billion yen

and for “Feb 2010”, it’s:

767 billion minus 74.3 billion = 692.7 billion yen.

So off this set, the non-Eikaiwa market for English has actually gone up. And it’s not in the electronic dictionairies!

Now, is this realistic? No. I don’t think it ever was a 224 billion yen ($2 billion at 112 yen/$) industry. February 2006 was an outlier, and I think it only ever gets reported when you want the story to be about the massive implosion. The whole of 2006, the annual 2006, data comes in at 122.664 billion yen. And you see, if you subtract that, you get:

826 billion minus 123 billion = 703 billion yen

But even there, you have steady-state for overall English, don’t you? 693 versus 703. On figures that are estimates. Eikaiwa is then only 60% of what it was, pre-GEOS bankruptcy, maybe not an implosion yet, but definitely a cratering. But the rest of English teaching is just fine and dandy.

2 thoughts on “Yano Research and Japan METI’s numbers on the English teaching industry in Japan

  1. You are trying to subtract oranges from apples in order to come up with pears.

    The Yano numbers and the METI numbers are likely reasonably accurate for what they are trying to measure but they are measuring VERY different things.

    METI numbers are measuring the sales figures of foreign language schools whose only purpose is teach a foreign language. Things foreigners are likely to be hired for in mass numbers.

    Yano numbers are covering not only foreign language schools but other “peripheral” businesses like translation and interpreting and language study materials like electronic dictionaries, study abroad programmes, text books for middle and high school students, text books for qualification exams, software, e-learning etc. Things not as likely to hire a mass lot of foreigners.

    Fluctuation in yen, releasing of new textbooks to adhere with new educational guidelines, new software releases etc. are going to have a HUGE impact on the number you see from Yano and merely subtracting out METI numbers doesn’t mean a whole lot.

    Also keep in mind that this isn’t JUST English conversation. This is all other languages as well. Granted, English is probably the largest market (SWAG. I don’t have the figures for language breakdown) I feel that in the coming years there is going to be a shift away from English and more towards Chinese as China makes its move as an economic power. There was probably an uptick in Korean language study when Yon-sama got really popular (another SWAG.)

    1. If I drew out a Venn diagram of it, I think Eikaiwa would be a smaller ellipse within the larger one that, as you point out, Yano covers.

      But I don’t think it’s subtracting apples from oranges at all.

      Yano’s figures would have to include Eikaiwa.

      So it’s more like trying to measure the size of an apple (or smaller set of apples) in a basket of apples and oranges.

      I gave the figures the other day from Yano. Peripherals are maybe 1/3 of the total, and other foreign languages are just a sliver of the English teaching portion, which makes sense, because you don’t see chains of Doitsukaiwa and Chuukaiwa outlets around train stations . . .

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