April 15th, 2013
07:48 AM ET
10 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. Mike in SA

    Oh, and for all of the people who say the US is too scary for them? Again, simple process, there is absolutely no door on the border stopping you from leaving. Have a nice life in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Nigeria, Canada, etc.

    April 15, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Shannon

    I do not care what foreign student thinks about guns in our country. They should stay where they belong and study in their home country.

    April 15, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Patriot

    Why do we care what foreigners think when it comes to our rights? I think I would be better off denouncing my citizenship and then immigrating here illegally, I'd probably feel like I had a lot more freedoms

    April 15, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Nonsense

    What is the point of siting a Japanese crime statistic from 2008? Interesting fact regarding US homicide rates in 2008: 8 times more people were killed here by a means OTHER than a firearm than in Japan. Yep, 4,716 people. Maybe the problem here is with our society? No...that can't be it.

    April 15, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. trewte

    Why don't we educate our own students and not worry about the foreign students! I work at a university in a graduate program that out of 150 graduates, 2 are American. The university profits from foreign students that is why he made the statement. I have talked to under graduate students and they do not receive the same treatment as foreign students in applying and/or enrolling in graduate studies. So if the foreign students are scared, good. Lets educate our own. Because the foreign student then takes his education and goes back to his country. How does that help the US? We need to quit worrying about helping foreign countries when our own back yards need tending to. Build with our students and our education, to build a stronger US. I do not really care if they are scared, many of them come from countries where people are killed on a daily basis for what they believe. Kerry you should be ashamed for hawking gun control!

    April 15, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. Bill

    foreign student should stay out of US then if they are scared.

    April 15, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. MrCrabs

    Every major city in every nation has crime. It depends on where you go in a major city. The bast majority of the crime in Chicago takes place on the south side. Geographically the city is 234.0 sq mi (606.1 sq km). There are 2,707,120 people in the city; that s 11,864.4 persons/sq mile (4,447.4 persons/sq kilometer). That does not include Cook County. If you were to add that along with Cook County and the collar counties, the numbers approach 5 Million. Even more live in and around LA and NYC. The criminals represent a fraction of that total population. Our new media has blown everything out of proportion to gain attention. They are in the business of making big money off advertizements. They use all tragedies to make more money. Elected officials, like Kerry, use tragedies to stay in office and in the spot light. Power is more important to them than money. From what I've heard, any major city in the US is loads safer than most major European, Middle Eastern, or South American cites.

    April 15, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Fred

    What a tool this guy is. No Johnny that's not why students don't come to Amerika. They don't come because
    1) They don't want to get treated like a criminal and get groped whenever they travel in Amerika, 2) They don't
    want to get ripped off by paying 10X as much for a degree in the US as they would elsewhere for a degree
    that doesn't guarantee a decent job... That's why Johnny...

    April 15, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. Knightsix

    Mr. Kerry, I invite you to move to Japan permanently, where, I'm certain, you will feel much safer.

    April 15, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. Bluesky001

    Stay home then, we don't need you here, you scare us.

    April 15, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Namely e

    Once this writer actually asks Japanese why Japanese don't want to go to school in the U. S.: low birth rate, cost, and just want to stay home. So who was the coached 10 year old that decided right then that he was afraid of guns giving this writer a spin and Kerry ( bullet in the ass?) more garbage for gun control? Smarten up politicians and media! We're smarter than your spins.

    April 15, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    We can't educate the students in our country, why should we give a rat's patutie about students from other countries?
    Let's flip that around: Perhaps the students in this country are not as interested in obtaining a quality education as students from other countries.
    It baffles the mind how people from Thrid World countries, like myself, come this country and achieve the American Dream because we are willing to apply ourselves to excelling in school, pool our resources, deny ourselves the 22 inch spinning rims, the latest from Apple, work 2-3 jobs, and yet Americans resent us for our diligence and committment to succeed.
    You don't know what a great country this is Americans, you have no idea how good you have it , and you certainly fail to appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities that lie right in front of your petulant face.
    God bless America and those willing to work and apply themselves to make their American Dream a reality, myself included.

    April 15, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Michael

    Good. Schools which receive any form of public funding are for citizens, not people from other countries.

    My taxes are partly paying for those schools to be used by Americans, not foreigners. America is, and should be, a diverse melting pot; but comprised of citizens and immigrants (intent on becoming citizens).

    Why our Federal government is so keen on having people from other countries move here as non-citizens to take our middle class jobs and go to higher education schools bewilders me.

    April 15, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. John Paul

    If you are a foreigner and guns in the United States of America scare you, that problem is solved quite easily: do not set foot in the United States of America. Stay in your own country.

    April 15, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. TED

    there is a much better chance they will get killed in a car accident by some drunk than by someone with a assault rifle. They should stay out of electrical storms while here as well, the chance of getting struck by lightening is about the same as getting shot by one of those assaulting rifles.

    April 15, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. PeteH

    Foreign students bug Americans. Didn't a few of them blow up a couple of big buildings a while back? If they don't want to come here, that's fine with me. As for the gun violence in the U.S; it's true there is gun violence. Nothing's being done about it either. On the other hand, plenty is being done to limit the law-abiding citizen's ability to defend against it. Go figure. I guess the gangsters voted Democrat in 2012, and gun control must be Obama's payoff to them...

    April 15, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. Nonsense

    Citing a 2008 Japanese crime rate makes what point? Eight times more people in the US for the same year were victims of non-gun crime which ended in death. Yep...4,716...maybe the problem is deeper than just what we have available to us to cause harm to others?

    April 15, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    To those foreign students I would say don't let a few nut cases scare you away from furthering your studies in the greatest country on earth. I'm sure a lot of you have way more to fear, and less to show for your efforts if you remain at home.

    April 15, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. FoolKiller

    They think they're not safe in the United States and so they don't come," Kerry said.
    I doubt they worry as much as I do for my son at the University of Chicago...

    April 15, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. John

    I would like to know when Politicians are going to start standing up for the needs of "WE THE PEOPLE"... instead of investing in their own agendas... The only reason why our country is in the bad shape it is... is because of the self serving politicians who don't care about America and it's people... they only care about themselves...

    April 15, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. US Trained

    I fear that continued liberal pandering will further expose the underbelly of the United States. Right after we roll over and get stroked by foreign powers is the time they run us through with their gratitude. By attacking guns and not the criminals who use them, you are allowing further a crumbling in the very defense of our homes from enemies both foreign and domestic. Be careful how far you go in challenging our liberty King George. 2 things about history is 1. History always repeats itself and 2. The only thing that man learns from history is that man doesn't learn from history.

    April 15, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. freedom

    well tough, stay home then...

    April 15, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. Evan

    Maybe if the media stopped blowing these few incidents out of proportion so much. Yes they happen but we need to stop dwelling on them. You are only scaring people and inspiring the next lunatic to act.

    April 15, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. wrupp

    the Japanese felt the same way during WWII...... "a gun behind every blade of grass"

    April 15, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. frank landa

    Kerry scares patriots. Its a wash. Kerry does not like patriots and we dont like foreign students. Dont forget Kerrys purple heart for getting hit with an egg "shell fragment" in vietnam. Our defense being run by a sergeant and an anti war demonstrator who marries multiple women for their money. A fine catholic.

    April 15, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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