• Kyodo

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Any graduate of a non-Japanese high school will be able to take Kyoto University’s entrance exam next April if a new policy announced by the prestigious school Wednesday is approved by the education ministry.

Kyoto University would become the first public university to open the application tests to graduates of all non-Japanese high schools in the country.

The ministry put public universities’ admission policies under the spotlight in March when it announced that graduates of international schools accredited by Western education groups would be allowed to take entrance tests.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry froze the plan in order to reassess the situation, however, following widespread criticism that the plan was discriminatory toward other non-Japanese schools.

In particular, the decision left out ethnic Korean high schools.

The officials said a university faculty panel charged with dealing with human rights issues last September evaluated the textbooks and curricula of Korean schools.

The panel recommended that graduates of all non-Japanese schools be allowed to take entrance exams without first being required to take special qualifying tests known as “daiken.”

Currently, graduates of non-Japanese schools are required to pass daiken to qualify to take national university exams.

Members of the panel said that based on the standpoint of history and human rights, it is proper to allow all graduates to take the entrance exams, according to the officials.

The university made its final decision Tuesday.

Supporters who have been calling for flexible measures for graduates of non-Japanese schools praised the university’s move.

The principal of Kyoto Korean Middle and High School in Kyoto, Lee Jong Il, said the decision is in line with the age of globalization.

He said he believes the move was influenced by the work of students and graduates who had sought to overcome the limitations imposed on them.

Masakazu Iyama, who is part of a group of lawyers dealing with issues related to non-Japanese and ethnic schools, also praised Kyoto University for doing the right thing despite pressure from the education ministry. He said he hopes other universities will follow suit.

Nearly half of Japan’s prefectural, municipal and private universities allow such applicants to take entrance exams without first having to take the daiken.

State-run university professors, prefectural governors and others have been pushing for the change, and lawyers have threatened lawsuits to achieve the goal. They have called on universities to decide on the issue by late this month.