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.
A magnitude 8.5 earthquake struck off the east coast of Japan on Saturday, shaking buildings in Tokyo, but there was no danger of a tsunami and no immediate reports of damage since the quake was extremely deep. (Reuters)
A violent volcanic eruption in Japan that forced the evacuation of an island appears to have come to a halt, the country's weather agency has announced. (9news.com.au)
The explosive eruption on Mt. Shindake in Kagoshima Prefecture on Friday is likely to have involved the direct ejection of magma, or direct subterranean contact between magma and groundwater, experts say. (The Japan News)
Twelve of the 29 suma mackerel tuna have died at Tokyo Sea Life Park in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, since the aquarium released the fish into its tank less than a week ago, it was learned Thursday. There has been a mysterious die-off of kuromaguro bluefin tuna, hatsugatsuo and other species of bonito at the aquarium since December. (The Japan News)
McDonald's Japan is still reeling from a series of food-safety scandals. Executives have responded by cutting the number of outlets that are open 24 hours a day. (NHK)
A 60-year-old man and a seven-year-old girl drowned in a pond in Usuki, Oita Prefecture, on Friday. (Japan Today)
A day after the eruption of Mount Shindake caused the evacuation of a small island off Kyushu, evacuees on Saturday began bracing for a long stay away from home as the Meteorological Agency warned of more eruptions to come. (Japan Times)
A 45-year-old male patient at a clinic in Kadoma, Osaka, has been arrested on suspicion of attacking a woman working at the reception desk with a knife. (Japan Today)
Police in Sapporo said Thursday they have arrested a 64-year-old woman over the death of her 42-year-old mentally disabled daughter whose body was found at their apartment in Nishi Ward. (Japan Today)
A 25-year-old man on Wednesday went on trial for fatally stabbing one man and wounding three others during a 10-minute rampage in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, in March 2014. (Japan Today)
The Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums says hackers stole phone numbers and email addresses of thousands of zoo and aquarium workers nationwide in an incident earlier this year. (Japan Times)
The Japanese health ministry's plan to ban restaurants from serving raw pork including liver and other internal organs was approved at an advisory panel sectional meeting on Wednesday. (Jiji Press)
Police in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, have arrested a 65-year-old man after three bodies were found in the ruins of his house that was destroyed by a fire on Tuesday morning. (Japan Today)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have attended a ceremony in Tokyo to pray for the victims of a devastating US air raid during World War Two. (NHK)
On May 21, police in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture arrested a woman on swindling charges after the cashier at a local store erroneously handed her an extra 45,000 yen (US$370) in change. (rocketnews24.com)