Education material developers are racing to create English proficiency tests for high school students after the government's Education Rebuilding Implementation Council proposed in May that outside English tests be used for university entrance examinations.
With some high schools starting English classes taught in English this spring, the momentum is building for reviewing the form of English examinations for college admission.
The council originally considered the use of only TOEFL, an English proficiency test created in the United States to gauge English skills of foreign students and used by universities around the world. But it eventually decided to allow other tests after some council members pointed out TOEFL questions may be "too difficult."
Benesse Corp., a major education business operator, is offering a test called "GTEC for Students." Last year, 620,000 middle and high school students took the test, which meaures their proficiency in reading, listening and writing. The company plans to include questions to test their conversation skills sometime during the 2014 academic year.
Supermarkets in Japan have been rationing butter since spring because of a shortfall in raw milk production. Now, there's concern there won't be enough for the crucial holiday baking season. (usatoday.com)
Japan supports a U.S. move to identify North Korea as the culprit behind the recent hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., the top government spokesman said Monday, criticizing the attack as a grave national security issue. (Kyodo)
The Japan Coast Guard says a Chinese captain has been arrested on suspicion of coral poaching in Japan's territorial waters. (NHK)
Tokyo Electric Power Co. finished on Saturday removing all nuclear fuel assemblies from the cooling pool at the No. 4 reactor building at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. (Jiji Press)
The Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Friday that an influenza epidemic is spreading across Japan. (Japan Today)
Christmas Eve surpasses Valentine's Day as the romantic dinner event for Japanese couples, but viewed as a socioeconomic read on Japan, the celebration highlights two major problems the country faces: low wages and low birth rates. (cnbc.com)
Two Japanese actresses will tie the knot next year in the conservative country's first celebrity gay wedding. (gaystarnews.com)
A man found a body Sunday evening in the Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, apartment of his younger, 58-year-old brother after the landlord alerted him that his sibling had failed to pay the rent. (Japan Times)
Fifty-four workers suffered food poisoning at a Nippon Ham meat-processing plant in Kawatana, Nagasaki Prefecture, company officials said Sunday. (Japan Today)
Sales of special Suica cards to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Tokyo Station were canceled soon after they began Saturday, as a large crowd of people flooded the area. (The Japan News)
Buddhist monks and believers have come together in an annual year-end event to clean up two major temples in Kyoto. (NHK)
The Niigata prefectural government started clearing a section of National Highway Route 405 in Tsunan in the prefecture on Friday, after a landslide mixed with snow blocked off about 50 meters of the road the night before. (The Japan News)
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police plan to limit pedestrian access to Shibuya's famous scramble crossing to avoid trouble from rowdy revelers on New Year's Eve. (Japan Today)
The Osaka District Court has ruled that Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's order to check whether municipal office workers had tattoos was illegal and constituted an invasion of privacy. (Japan Today)
The Chiba Public Safety Commission has banned a 29-year-old man from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, from riding a bicycle for 90 days, after he was found guilty of cycling under the influence of "kiken" quasi-legal drugs. (Japan Times)