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Rakuten to make English official language inside company by end of 2012

Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani, center, answers questions from reporters in Tokyo on June 30. (Mainichi)
Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani, center, answers questions from reporters in Tokyo on June 30. (Mainichi)

Internet shopping giant Rakuten Inc. will make English the only "official language" among its employees by the end of 2012, as part of its global strategy.

"Our goal is to become the No. 1 Internet service company in the world," Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani said at a Tokyo press conference on June 30, where he mainly spoke in English. He first told reporters he would explain Rakuten's future perspectives in English on the grounds that the company is currently in the middle of transitioning its in-house language to English.

Mikitani remarked that he has decided using English as a common language is necessary for the company to grow into a global corporation.

Rakuten has already begun requiring executives to use English at meetings and in meeting materials. Mikitani said making employees communicate in English would be needed for Rakuten to successfully expand its business operations worldwide and to hire capable employees overseas. He then hinted at the possibility of partially moving the company's headquarters' operations abroad if the need arises.

According to Mikitani, Rakuten has set a goal of expanding current overseas operations in six countries and regions to 27 and increasing group sales from one trillion yen in fiscal 2009 to 20 trillion yen sometime in the future.

Among other domestic firms, Nissan Motor Co. holds management meetings in English, and Fast Retailing Co. -- the operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing chain -- plans to make English its official in-house language as of March 2012.

(Mainichi Japan) July 1, 2010

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