April 15th, 2013
07:48 AM ET
2 years ago

Kerry: Foreign students 'scared' of guns in U.S.

(CNN) – Students in other countries assessing where to study abroad are increasingly scared of coming to the United States because of gun violence, the nation's top diplomat said Monday.

Speaking with CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty in Tokyo, Secretary of State John Kerry said he'd discussed the situation with officials there who said students felt unsafe in the United States.

"We had an interesting discussion about why fewer students are coming to, particularly from Japan, to study in the United States, and one of the responses I got from our officials from conversations with parents here is that they're actually scared. They think they're not safe in the United States and so they don't come," Kerry said.

He noted Japan's restrictive gun laws – which prevent private ownership of nearly all firearms, including handguns – and said the country was safer "where people are not running around with guns."

In 2011, Japan sent 21,290 students to study in the United States, making it the seventh largest country of origin for international scholars. That was down 14% from the previous year, according to numbers from the Institute of International Education.

Figures have shown international study is down markedly among Japanese students to all destinations, including the United States. Experts have attributed the decline to Japan's low birthrate, the expense of foreign study in a poor economy, and a desire among Japanese young people to remain at home rather than venture to other countries.

Unlike the United States, the right to private gun ownership in Japan is not guaranteed in law. Individuals wishing to possess any firearm must obtain a license and demonstrate a reason for owning the gun.

Out of a total 582 homicides in Japan in 2008, 11 were by guns.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gun control • John Kerry
soundoff (1,100 Responses)
  1. SPOT

    Why all the hateful comments here in these posts? Is everyone so scared that this is their reaction to a simple statement
    about foreign students and guns? Are they all so used to the violence in the US it has become some kind of badge of honor to
    support these US killings? Hope no ones friends or family are ever have to contend with the same kind of fear!!.

    April 15, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. mountainlady

    Guns do scare American students as well. This concern about being safe spreads beyond foreign students. I have a friend who works in the tourist business who said that she has clients who are deeply concerned about US gun violence, particularly as applied to guns being carried in National Parks and concealed weapons being prevalent in Florida and they are cancelling vacation plans for the US and Disney World. Thanks to the American obsession with guns we are losing money as well as becoming an international laughing stock. There is more gun violence both in and out of the ghetto in America than in all other developed countries combined. People are smart to take their tourist and student dollars and stay away.

    April 15, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. Fred3840

    So who cares. Let them stay at home vice coming to the US taking grant money from the US Government, getting local free healthcare, and wide range of free services at the US taxpayer expense. Last time I checked there wasn't a shortage of people trying to come to the US to work or to go to school. Another example of the democrats trying to scare everybody. Place called Chicago with the strictest gun controls in the US. Entire state ran by democrats (majority Obama flunkies) and last I checked number one for gun violence (of course i mention the percent of race on race crime CNN will remove the post) and close third to CA and MI for being bankrupt.

    April 15, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. TJ

    It's counterintuitive that, as reported last week, violent crime had declined substantially in the past 10-15 years and this week Secretary Kerry states that the reduction in foreign students is due to concerns about "gun violence." Since the US is safer than it was 10 years ago as far as murders, rapes, robberies and other violent crime, the per capita number of guns does not seem to have an adverse affect on overall public safety.

    Perhaps the real reason is in the third to the last paragraph of the article.

    April 15, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Joe

    Dudebro, that's been my experience as well. Without fail, every time I meet a foreign exchange student and they find out I'm a gun owner their curiosity is piqued and they are very interested.

    Funny, none of those students that I took to the shooting range looked scared when they were blasting away like their favorite action movie hero.

    I think Kerry is just trying to score political points; no surprise coming from a Waffler like that.

    April 15, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. Tuza Baap

    Pretty soon we will have influx of students from Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and related countries where there are no Gun Laws. NRA will sponsor free training and education of handling semi-automatic weapons in the campuses, thus boosting their membership. We need these students who are well trained in US so that they go back and throw their givernment and call US to invade their countries. So, our military is occupied, and more business for defense contractors. Its a win-win situation.

    April 15, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. Frenetik

    People die in shootings EVERY day in the U.S., it's ridiculous.

    April 15, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Morekoolaidplz

    And another thing, who cares! America wasn't founded to be like every other country and adopt their laws and aside by their wishes. On a side note, why also do we continue to send money and support to countries that hate us.

    April 15, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. mountainlady

    Guns do scare American students as well. This concern about being safe spreads beyond foreign students. I have a friend who works in the tourist business who said that she has foreign clients who are deeply concerned about US gun violence, particularly as applied to guns being carried in National Parks and concealed weapons being prevalent in Florida and they are cancelling vacation plans for the US and Disney World. Thanks to the American obsession with guns we are losing money as well as becoming an international laughing stock. There is more gun violence both in and out of the ghetto in America than in all other developed countries combined. People are smart to take their tourist and student dollars and stay away.

    April 15, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. boi

    I don't blame them. The US is a scary and violent place.

    April 15, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Chagrined500

    So, tell them to study in Chicago.
    Guns are illegal there.

    April 15, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. julielouise

    You bet they are. I'm just across the border and I'm scared of going to the States for that reason. We have so few murders in the whole province where I live we send our ER doctors to Miami, all expenses paid, so they get "repair bullet wounds" training there. The big city where I live and all surrounding area has about 28 murders a year. 28. A year. Went to N.Y anyway and my mom was all over me and my security, as if I were going to Kabul. Lucky I was not visiting Chicago.

    April 15, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. jim bob

    We the united states are doomed! Continue to let them cripple us because our own people are weak and we do nothing. What a shame our country is becoming!

    April 15, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Name

    Tell them to stay home

    April 15, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Mainscribe

    Tell them to stay at home....

    April 15, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. cireynolds

    It is heart warming to see that the NRA web trolls have come once again to spew their ignorance and stupidity. This article focuses on a legitimate complaint, but the trolls only talk about "liberal media propaganda", liberals trying to take my guns away or some Kerry bashing. Kerry is the Secretary of State, and yes, this is his business. I am not against owning guns, I am against those that don't respect respect them by securing them properly, hence the 4 year old shooting a couple of days ago.

    April 15, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. Nonsense

    Mentioning a Japanese crime statistic from 2008 makes what point? Go to the FBI's online information system's site and you will find for 2008 that the number of people murdered in the United States by means other than a firearm was 8 times higher than Japan's total....yep, 4716 people murdered here without the perp using a firearm. Maybe the problem is with our society? No....that can't be it.

    April 15, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Tuza Baap

    I agree with Kimber. There should be no gun- control. We should promote all kinds of weapons, no restrictions. There should be no background check none at all. Fully automatic weapons should be allowed in all public places. The country should look like wild west. Every kid should be allowed to carry gun in his/her back-pac. We are wasting time in legilating and discussing all gun laws. Our nation should be a shining example of promoting gun violence. So, there should be no courts needed. Might is right. If you want to survive, take classes of gun education. Also we should have more emphasis of Guns in getting a High School Diploma. If you get a Ph. D. in Guns, then only you can run for an office.

    April 15, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. Dan Jones

    The ONLY reason a student from some other country might think that it is more unsafe to study in America than some other country is if our leader Obama has been running his mouth trying to install fear in people. This is all pure nonsense and the liberals know it. America is still the number one destination for foreign students and still the safest place to study.

    April 15, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. TheLostSurveyor

    My parents had a couple of exchange students after I went to college. One was from Belgium and the other was from Spain. Being from Texas, guns are simply a part of our lives. Both said that since they were coming to Texas they were looking forward to hopefully getting to shoot some guns. Both absolutely loved shooting. Kerry is full of it.

    April 15, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. oldpatriot

    Are they also afraid of our drone warfare and our military invasions of their countries ?

    Honestly I couldn't care less about foreign students being upset, let them attend school in their own country and leave more open spots for Americans.

    April 15, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. PTB

    Great news. Let the Japanese stay in Japan. Who cares. Doesn't John Kerry have bigger issues to be concerned with? Having John Kerry as Secretary of State is much more frightening than the subject matter of this article.

    April 15, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. Lagos

    I wouldn't refuse to believe that, Mister Kerry, if there was some sort of study or at least halfway legitimate survey that would indicate this.

    April 15, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. oldpatriot

    The root cause of our gun violence is the prohibition of drugs, the drug war is a war on the people and if you want to cut gun related violence by minimum 50% overnight simply legalize drugs.

    April 15, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Paul

    T3: Please grow a backbone. YES we understand you don't know anything about guns, and YES we know you're terrified of them. But please stop your liberal hand-wringing angst...it's not a minority of people who are holding you hostage. The truth is that the majority of Americans believe in gun rights. Perhaps you should just stay indoors and hide.

    April 15, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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