When speaking last month about a plan to introduce private-sector English testing for university entrance exams, education minister Koichi Hagiuda created an outcry when he said students should compete for entry "in accordance with their (financial) standing," implying they should compete financially.

The comments created a storm of controversy, with some critics saying Hagiuda's remarks violated the Basic Act on Education, which decrees that people must receive equal opportunities based on their abilities and must not be subjected to discrimination in education due to their social status or economic position.

Hagiuda was forced to apologize for his remarks and postpone the introduction of the tests, but the damage had been done. The incident raised larger questions, now being pursued by opposition parties in the Diet, as to how and why the government introduced private testing, and whether the system is transparent and fair to all regardless of social or financial status.