That's a lot of interview slots for a country that produces perhaps 100 applicants to HBS a year. It's twice as many as those scheduled in Mumbai, India and one more than what's on the docket for Shanghai, China, even though GMAT test takers from both China and India outnumber those from Japan by a factor of nine to one. For every person who took the GMAT in 2012-2013 from Japan, there were 8.8 who did so in India and 9.1 who took the exam in China.
Dee Leopold, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at HBS, told applicants that admission board members will be interviewing invited round two applicants in Tokyo on February 19, 20, 21, and 22. It's part of a major push to attract more MBA students from Japan and will likely come at the expense of candidates from other countries.
"I'd like to know how many of those four days worth of Tokyo interview slots are being taken by applicants outside Japan," says Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com, an admissions consultant.
"My guess is, not many. That means they are interviewing lots of Japanese passport holders in an effort, for whatever reason, to increase Japanese enrollment. It is also an interesting question about who is getting 'punished' for this initiative. Applicants from China, India? Could be."
Only last week, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria bemoaned the fact that MBA applicants from Japan-and therefore Japanese students-have dwindled to a precious few. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Nohria said he believes a major falloff in candidates from Japan is occurring because the country has become more insular in recent years.
"One of the anxieties we have is we used to see 30 to 40 Japanese students out of 900 M.B.A. students every year," he told the Journal. "Now it is down to four to five. Japan is only part of Asia that's in retreat. They were so engaged in the global economy in the 1980s, now they have become more insular. Japan is the third largest economy in the world, it's important for us to find a way to reach out."