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Pearson's Versant English Test Essential for all Rakuten Employees

Pearson's Versant English Test Essential for all Rakuten Employees

Communicative English Assessment to Identify and Train Global Talent

Tokyo, Japan - July 12, 2011 - Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755) has announced that it is now mandatory for all employees to take the Versant English Test, an English language speaking test developed by Pearson, the world's leading learning company.

Rakuten's goal is to become the world's biggest Internet service company. Therefore, the company recognizes that using English as the official language of the group is one small but critical step to achieving this goal. Rakuten is confident the introduction of Versant, the leading test of spoken English, will help to accurately, economically and conveniently identify qualified new recruits, global project teams, as well as, efficiently inform language training programs for all staff.

Rakuten's decision to identify and train global talent directly supports the company's strategic objective of continued growth in the global market place. As Hiroshi Mikitani, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten stated in his company message, "Rakuten Group plans to deploy operations in 27 countries and areas in the future and raise the overseas portion in the total distribution amount of Rakuten Group to 70%. It is only natural that we deploy our operations globally since the speed and scale for growth is greater overseas than in Japan."

Versant's precise measurement of communicative English ability has added a new dimension to the English language assessment field, much of which until now focused solely on reading and writing skills rather than communicative ability. It is an accurate test with quick results, and is expected to become widely used in corporate recruitment, as well as for career development and training for corporations and institutions interested in identifying and developing globally competitive human resources.

"The need to identify a globally competitive work force is now a priority for corporate Japan and Rakuten is leading by example." commented Brendan Delahunty, President and Chief Representative of Pearson Kirihara. "We are proud to support Rakuten's efforts to identify and develop global human resources by providing Versant as a reliable measurement of communicative English ability."

About Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755), is one of the world's leading Internet service companies, providing a variety of consumer and business-focused services including e-commerce, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal & media, online marketing and professional sports. Rakuten is expanding globally and currently operates throughout Asia, Western Europe and North America. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 10,000 employees worldwide. For more information, visit http://global.rakuten.com/group.

For investor and media inquiries, please contact:

For Media:
Public Relations (Japanese, English)
Rakuten, Inc.
Tel: +81-50-5817-1104
E-mail: pr@mail.rakuten.com
For Investors:
Investor Relations (Japanese, English)
Rakuten, Inc.
Tel: +81-3-6387-0555

About the Versant Test

Versant is a speaking test which can measure how well one understands and communicates in English. Using Pearson's highly advanced and patented speech processing technology, Versant tests can accurately measure the speaking skills of the test taker. The test is only 15 minutes long, and can be taken over the phone or on a PC 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The score report is available within minutes of completing the test and shows overall scores and sub-skill scores for Sentence Mastery, Vocabulary, Pronunciation, and Fluency. The score report also provides recommendations for improvement and score mappings to TOEIC, TOEFL and CEFR (Common European Framework) scores.

The test is now used in more than 100 countries worldwide. In addition to major companies and academic institutions, the tests have been adopted as reliable spoken language tests at agencies such as the US Department of Defense, US Department of Homeland Security, and Dutch Immigration Bureau.

For more information about the Versant English Test, please visit: www.versant.jp

About Pearson / Pearson Kirihara

Pearson is the world's leading learning company. Our education business combines 150 years of experience in publishing with the latest learning technology and online support. We are also part of the wider Pearson family which includes Penguin, Dorling Kindersley and the Financial Times.

We provide education and assessment services in more than 65 countries. Our courses and resources are available in print, online and through multi-lingual packages, helping people learn whatever, wherever and however they choose. Products such as MyLabs are changing education practice worldwide.

At Pearson, we take learning personally. Every day our work helps learning flourish, and wherever learning flourishes, so do people.

Pearson Kirihara is the new fully merged company of former Pearson Education Japan and Kirihara Shoten, and has served as Pearson's Japan office since August, 2010.

For more information about Pearson Kirihara, please visit: www.pearsonkirihara.jp For more information about Pearson, please visit: www.pearson.com

For more information about Versant English Test, please visit: www.versant.jp

For further information contact:

Ayako Shibata
Marketing and PR
Pearson Kirihara K.K. (Tokyo, Japan)
Tel: +81 (0)3 5929 6370
Email: ayako.shibata@pearson.com
Fiona Morgan
Corporate Communications
Pearson Asia Pacific
Tel: +852 9721 0186
Email: fiona.morgan@pearson.com

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