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Education minister Shinsuke Suematsu said Tuesday that his ministry will ask national and other public universities to offer measures to those who will be unable to take the country's unified entrance exams scheduled later this month due to reasons including coronavirus infections.

Specifically, the education ministry will call on the universities to use their respective second-stage entrance exams alone to decide whether to admit such applicants, the minister said at a news conference.

The ministry will also ask private universities utilizing the unified exams to make admission decisions by their own entrance tests alone for applicants who would miss the unified ones.

For those unable to take these second-stage or individual exams due to a COVID-19 infection, the ministry will request universities to consider allowing applicants to be enrolled by providing opportunities for supplementary exams, such as one based on application documents and interviews, Suematsu said.

Prefectural education boards across the country will also be asked to consider making admission decisions using supplementary tests or documents alone for those who would be unable to take regular junior high and high school entrance exams because of coronavirus infections.

All these measures will be in place following a recent surge in coronavirus infection cases apparently reflecting the rapid spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.

The regular unified entrance exams will be held Saturday and Sunday, to be followed by makeup tests on Jan. 29 and 30.

The unified exams will be the equivalent of the first-stage tests at national and other public universities. They will also be used by many private universities and junior colleges.

"To ensure that all applicants will be given an opportunity to take the entrance exams, we will request all universities to use individual entrance tests or other formats, depending on each applicant's situation, to make admission decisions," Suematsu said.

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