Higher education in Japan is apparently in crisis — again.

It’s not the kind of crisis that is afflicting universities in the United States and Europe, where lawsuits, debates and protests about safe spaces, decolonization and the protection of academic freedoms signal doubts about the legitimacy of the university as an institution.

In Japan, superficially at least, it’s more of a numbers game. The declining birthrate, combined with a long-running but unsuccessful drive to secure global rankings for Japanese universities that reflect the single-digit ranking of Japan’s gross domestic product, means fewer domestic admissions and less chance of attracting students and staff from abroad.