The transfer of the Embassy of Japan from Makati to its new chancery in Roxas Boulevard brought an end to the 28-year existence of the Nihongo Gakko (Japanese Language School). Since its establishment in 1969, the Japan Information and Cultural Center (JICC) supervised the Nihongo Gakko. It grew from a one-classroom affair to what had become one of the major facilities for Japanese language training in the Philippines. By March 1997 when the Makati classes had to be suspended due to the transfer of the Embassy, the JICC-Nihongo Gakko had taught over 16,000 students with an average of 600 students enrolled each year.




That the JICC-Nihongo Gakko could not be physically accommodated in the new chancery was clear to all. But neither was a simple closure tenable, after a 28-year legacy of teaching Japanese language to Filipinos of all ages and different walks of life. The task of bequeathing the Nihongo Gakko to a worthy recipient thus fell on the shoulders of then outgoing JICC Director, Susumu Tanaka. In his words, Tanaka- shocho poetically described his mission: To ready the Nihongo School as a bride, for the best groom a parent could wish for his daughter. After a careful selection process, the JICC eventually requested the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation, Inc. (PJFF) to continue its work of promoting Nihongo education in the Philippines, this time, under Filipino management, control and direction.




Amb. Jose S. Laurel III, assisted by Amb. Benjamin F. Sanvictores (Chairman & Exec. Trustee respectively of the PJFF), conceptualized the nature of the motivation behind and the procedure for the bequeathal of the Nihongo Gakko to the PJFF. First of all, Amb. Laurel made it clear that in accepting from the JICC the reins over the Nihongo Gakko, the PJFF did not have self-serving commercial or business interests to promote. In fact, as the prime mover behind the Philippine Institute of Japanese Language & Culture (PIJLC) - established in 1992 - the PJFF already had a language training project. Mr. Tanaka countered that the excellent management record of the PIJLC was precisely a major reason for choosing the PJFF as the transferee of the Nihongo Gakko’s operations.Secondly, Amb. Laurel agreed that the time was ripe to convey the Nihongo Gakko to a Filipino group; that this is the only way the institution can really expand and develop along the needs of Filipinos for training in Nihongo.Thirdly, Amb. Laurel said that, as an act of friendship and in recognition of the close working relationship between the Philippines-Japan Society and the JICC, the PJFF would do all it could to cooperate with and be of assistance to the JICC in this most important task of continuing the work of the Nihongo Gakko. He said it is the PJFF’s honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of continuing the operations of the Nihongo Gakko. Ultimately, the PJFF organized the Nihongo Center Foundation, Inc. (NCFI) - the corporate vehicle that would continue the work of the JICC-Nihongo Gakko.




Ultimately, the PJFF organized the Nihongo Center Foundation, Inc. (NCFI) - the corporate vehicle that would continue the work of the JICC-Nihongo Gakko. It absorbed the entire faculty of the Nihongo Gakko and received as a donation the considerable collection of Japanese language textbooks, reference materials, audio-visual and other teaching facilities.