Use of private English tests for university exams delayed after gaffe
Japan Today -- Nov 02
The government decided Friday to put off the planned introduction of private-sector English proficiency tests as part of Japan's standardized university entrance exams due to start next April, the education minister said, following his gaffe over the matter.

"We cannot recommend the current (exam) system to students with confidence," education minister Koichi Hagiuda said at a press conference.

He said the ministry will review the system over a year, including whether the private-sector tests should be used at all, and aim to introduce a new scheme around the 2024 academic year.

The current English-language component of the standardized exam only assesses reading and listening comprehension, and the use of private-sector tests that also check writing and speaking skills was meant to evaluate students in a more comprehensive manner.

However, critics have said use of the private-sector tests would be problematic in terms of access to test locations and the relatively high examination fees.

Hagiuda triggered an outcry on Oct. 24 when he said on a TV program that students should compete for university places "in accordance with their (financial) standing" when asked about the fairness of using the tests.

The remark sparked criticism and calls for a postponement from members of the ruling as well as opposition parties and high school administrators. Hagiuda retracted the remark five days later.

However, Hagiuda maintained Friday that his controversial remark "did not affect the decision" to delay the exams, citing insufficient coordination with the private sector as an underlying factor.

News source: Japan Today
Dec 12
A recent online survey has found that 1 in 10 in Japan identify as LGBT or another sexual minority. (Japan Times)
Dec 10
In Japan these days it seems that conservatives want to change things and progressives want to cling to the status quo. An apparently minor, but highly symbolic, example is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government's proposal to change the order of Japanese names when written in the Latin or Western alphabet. (Nikkei)
Dec 09
Jikei Hospital in the city of Kumamoto, known for its “Konotori no Yurikago” (storks’ cradle) baby hatch, will start a program allowing women to give birth while keeping their names secret, a senior official has said. (Japan Times)
Dec 07
SoftBank Corp. and the University of Tokyo have agreed to open artificial-intelligence centers staffed with specialists from the university and around the world, to swiftly turn research into profitable business ventures so Japan can keep up with the U.S. and China. (Japan Times)
Dec 07
Typical cheerleading clubs in schools, known as ōendan, consist of men clad in black gakuran stand-up collar uniforms yelling vigorously and performing synchronized, dynamic choreographed moves to support sports teams. (Japan Times)
Dec 04
A welfare ministry panel said Tuesday that forcing children to sit extensively in the formal Japanese style known as seiza will be recognized as a morally unacceptable form of punishment under a new law that will enter into force next April. (Japan Today)
Dec 04
Japanese students ranked at their lowest level ever in reading while remaining in the top band in science and mathematics in a triennial international survey on academic ability, the OECD said Tuesday. (Japan Times)
Dec 03
A group of university students is calling for the elimination of sexual harassment by recruiters and other company workers during their job-hunting activities. (Japan Times)
Dec 02
Stronger penalties for drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel took effect in Japan on Sunday in the wake of an outcry from families who lost loved ones in traffic accidents caused by such drivers. (Japan Today)
Dec 02
Princess Aiko, the only child of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, turned 18 on Sunday, enjoying her last year in high school as she prepares to move on for further studies at university starting next spring. (Kyodo)