• Kyodo


Education minister Makiko Tanaka offered to approve three planned universities at a parliamentary meeting Wednesday, reversing her opposition last week to their creation.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will shortly notify the organizers of the three planned universities of their final approval, paving the way for them to open next spring, ministry officials said.

Tanaka a week ago expressed her opposition to her advisory panel’s recommendations approving the creation of the three universities, claiming the number of universities in Japan is excessive and suggesting this was lowering the nation’s educational standards and hence, job prospects for graduates.

Coming under fire for her unusual rejection of the panel’s recommendations, Tanaka indicated Tuesday she planned to eventually approve the universities — in Akita, Hokkaido and Aichi prefectures — under new criteria.

She hinted at a further concession at Wednesday’s meeting of the House of Representatives Education Subcommittee. “I will make an appropriate response in line with the present system.”

Tanaka, who got the ministerial post through Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet reshuffle Oct. 1, had been fired as foreign minister in the early 2000s by then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi after also clashing with bureaucrats.

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