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. cjacja

    I think most people look at it realistically. Yes America is not as safe as many other places but these are worse places. Many Americans. Literally MILLIONS of them study in foreign countries. It is a very, very common program. Any university will have fliers up in most buildings explaining how to apply.

    In my graduate level classes I think about one student per 12 or 20 has studied at least a semister outside the US. Many schools of tuition exchanges where exchange students pay their local schools and the school allow the students to swap. Costs the school zero. Language is an issue so Americans go mostly to schools that teach in languages they know which would mostly me English or Spanish but many others too.

    April 15, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. John

    Then stay at home.

    April 15, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. wiggles magoo

    Translation: "Guns are scary and so they scare people away from America. People should not be aloud to run around with scary things and the government needs to take them away. We need to pander to the UN and foreigners more than ever. 2nd amendment? What's that?"

    And this piece of trash is our secretary of state?

    April 15, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I do think that the perception of the U.S. being viewed as unsafe internationally is a problem, but we definitely DON'T have a problem with too few foreign students applying to U.S. universities. Seriously? This is the example that he uses to illustrate the problem? Can you say out of touch?

    April 15, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. tr

    Excuse me, guns scare Americans too!

    April 15, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. eeyore

    ...pretty sad state of affairs with the comments made here...just wonder how these folks will feel if someone spoke to them like they do to others...? hateful, vengeful, not really for "self defense" purposes...these are the folks who have the right to own guns? sounds like these folks like to settle disputes with guns...? sadly, people do not remember the last time this nation went with a isolationist policy...

    April 15, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  7. DustyOnes

    Kerry scares American citizens.

    April 15, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. tr

    John Kerry is and will be a great Secretary of State.
    Our government needs to listen to Americans who know that guns kill and should be out of the hands
    of "ordinary" people. We have police, FBI, CIA, National Guard, NSA, etc.....who have guns, have been trained to have
    guns etc... If "ordinary people" love to play with deadly weapons so much, they can join one of the above clubs.
    The rest of us deserve to not live with their threat.

    April 15, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. zenbowman

    Is Kerry trolling?

    I came to the US as a foreign student, and it was the desire for freedom that brought me here. I've seen a world ruled by busybodies who think they can tell you what to do, and I didn't like it.

    Foreigners who like a nanny state should stay in the one they grew up in.

    April 15, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  10. Mark G.

    They should be more afraid of Liberals and democrats. They are the real threat.

    April 15, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. Johnny be good

    If you go to most of the South East Asian countries you will find guns at every door post. McDonalds, Burger King, banks, etc. everywhere is guards posted with super weapons. I am in America and do not see any of this scary situations here except at government protected sites and agents of the government whom are scared to death about being killed since why do you or you afraid? Maybe you are guilty of whom you are? I think any time anyone is in a position where they have to be protected then it is because they are not up to par with humanity and are afraid they will lose what they have that has been gained by dishonesty.

    April 15, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. MJM

    I fail to see how the concern of foreign students should somehow impact on the gun debate. This is an internal issue and if a foreign student beleives he can get the same education any where else that is where he is going to go regardless of the gun situation. Moscow is a violent city but the universities contain some of the greatest artists and scientists known and this is what draws students. Foreign students will flock to America because of the culture and amenities we offer while they study. Yet if they choose somewhere else so be it. The impact on the average American will be minimal if any at all

    April 15, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. SCPilot

    The guns these students are surrounded by in their home countries are far more dangerous than the guns here. In their countries, the guns are held only by the oppressive regime. Here, they are in the hands of freedom-loving patriots who will rise up and use them to defend the rights and liberties our founding fathers sacrificed so much to earn.

    April 15, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    then stay out of my country

    April 15, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. Jake

    This is absurd. Our universities are packed with foreigners, more so than any other country. What a way to maintain the gun control rhetoric alive. I'm not an NRA member or a gun aficionado, but come on people, Kerry's comments are just propaganda and falsehoods.

    April 15, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  16. Jack

    Have you looked at the news today Mr. Kerry?? Less people coming into this country would be a good thing....from any destination.

    April 15, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. RJC

    Meanwhile, the Illegals crossing the US/Mexican Border laugh at the guns posted there because the Border Agents either can't carry them or don't have the orders to use them...

    April 15, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. RobM

    I have friends over seas who passed on school in the US but neither said because of 'guns'.

    April 15, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. Marcus Bryner

    I call "total propaganda" on this article. I'm a dual citizen with a country in central Europe and USA (born and live here), and travel 1-2x per year to Europe. The reason why my friends in Europe are reluctant to travel here are the perceived hassles with TSA, loss of rights while travelling, etc. They also view the USA as the world's bully. We had an exchange student from Switzerland live with us last year. She wasn't afraid of guns in the US. Of course we did have several conversations about the loss of democracy and rights in the USA and how many countries are more "democratic" than the US now.

    April 15, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  20. konica135

    When I was in school, we had NRA designed riflery programs. We were taught proper gun handling and safety as well as provided opportunities for controlled target practice. The urban naysayers got around to cancelling such programs more out of fear and ignorance than common sense. Kerry needs to support the American way instead of kowtowing to the Odumbo apologetic mantra. But let's not forget his anti-Bush Swift Boat rants. He is just a puppet.

    April 15, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. Dick

    It does not seem to scare 11 million illegal immigrants. Scare them back hjome and reduce our welfare costs.

    April 15, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. agnar150

    I know of many foreign students who buy guns for protection against all the crooks we have in the USA. I think the new laws are going to hurt more then they are going to help. Now they can't even get guns only the crooks will have them. I think Biden is on the crooks side.

    April 15, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  23. Louis

    Mr. Swiftboat scares me. Propaganda lies by the Vacationer in Chief and his Ketchup boy

    April 15, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  24. Taylor

    Interestingly, as a current university student I have seen a few foreign students taking part in pistol club activities. For every foreign visitor afraid of guns, there's another who's interested in trying out this pastime because they aren't able to in their home countries.

    April 15, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  25. Woody

    After what happened in Boston ? Really ! Guns are the problem ? I don't think so !

    April 15, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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