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Last spring saw 702 graduates of ethnic and international schools in Japan and dropouts from Japanese high schools take college and university entrance exams without taking the “daiken” eligibility test as well, according to the education ministry.

Such graduates and those who did not finish high school were required to pass the daiken exam before taking entrance exams at state-run and some private universities, until the ministry relaxed the rules last September.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry compiled the figures after surveying 1,136 national and private universities and colleges, including junior colleges, nationwide.

The easing of exam rules has enabled graduates of international schools accredited by Western education groups and schools that have curricula corresponding to those in their home countries, including Brazil and China, to automatically apply to universities.

State-run universities and colleges have also been allowed to grant permission to individuals to take exams through the institutions’ own screening.

Graduates of pro-Pyongyang Korean schools are required to take this path, since the accreditation of Western education groups cannot apply to them and it is difficult to confirm the curricula in North Korea.

Ministry figures show 184 universities and colleges independently screened such graduates.

The easing of exam qualification rules sparked controversy last year after the ministry announced in March that it will allow only graduates of 16 Western-style international schools to skip the daiken in applying for university admission.

After non-English-speaking ethnic schools in Japan protested the decision as being discriminatory, the ministry revised its plan to include all non-Japanese high school graduates who fulfill certain conditions.

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