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. Fake Facts

    How convenient that the article uses homicide rates from 5 years ago. Japan had almost 1100 homicides last year. Per population, per gun owned, the US and Japan are comparable. Further negating the ideas presented here are the facts that places in Russia have intense gun regulations and staggering violent crime rates, meanwhile places like Switzerland arm every citizen and still maintain the lowest homicide rate in the world. Also, the percentage of gun homicides to actual homicides shows that people will kill no matter what access to weapons are provided. The United States has 200 times the amount of privately owned guns that Japan does, but not nearly 200 times the homicide rate, and twice the population.

    On a final note, it should be pointed out that Japan is an isolated country, completely lacking the inner city gang problem and violent immigrant/drug related violence the United States experiences. Obviously their crime rate is lower, they don't have poverty stricken inner cities and drug cartels everywhere.

    April 15, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. rs


    3.66 more years. God!! I wish I could un-vote.
    Don't fear! The Republicans are working in their states to ensure fewer people vote in the future. You may yet lose your vote!

    April 15, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. William House

    I'll bet the student debt worries them more.

    Focus on helping the middle class, stop your specious gun control bigotry, democrats.

    April 15, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. Mountainsboyca

    @Dan: times have changed. The oppressive British government and loyalists are long gone. You have your own government, be it as it is. They are not the tyrants. They are not the ones holding Americans hostage and in fear. They are the ones that are trying to do something to fix this issue. It is those that still cling to this idea that your government is the tyrant, while all the while they are the ones creating the issue. Tyranny is cruel or oppressive government or rule. Well fact is the American government are representatives chosen by the people, for the people (you).
    Based on that fact it is the people who are creating the tyranny and fear.
    How's them apples? Maybe you can borrow Washington's wooden teeth to chew if needed.

    April 15, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. William House

    End the Bgoted War on Drugs if you care to stop gun violence.

    Just ask Mexico.

    April 15, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. Name

    Maybe we don't care if they study here or not to begin with

    April 15, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. Matt

    Well first and foremost maybe we should focus on educating our own people first and fixing our educational system here. The real reason we have seen a decline in foreign students is the fact that we are not the educational hot bed that we used to be. Due to budget cuts the majority of universities are short staffed and professors are being pushed harder to acquire research dollars and publish research papers rather than educate students. As a professor at a major university i know that my administration puts and emphasis on research and could care less about our achievements in the classroom. However, I do stand by the fact that we need to educate our own first! This whole policy of "lets make the world a better place at the expense of our own citizens" really disappoints me.

    April 15, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. Ed

    Don't worry, foreign students. You will be learning in gun-free zones. Nothing to fear.

    April 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Evoman

    So the Japanese students are scared to come here to get educated. GOOD! Stay in Japan where you belong! Kerry needs to wake up and see that 90% of Japans construction equipment, cranes, and other technology was stolen from us by them and reproduced under mames like Kumato. Do your damn job and stay out of politicing for your Democatic parties Socialist agenda.

    April 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. steve

    The Chinese are more than making up for the loss of Japanese students who want to come here. Good for the Japanese parents to protect their kids. There are plenty of American parents who would shy away from sending their kid to the middle east, turkey etc. to study for safety reasons. None of this really matters. If you are willing to get into a car and go on the road, you are taking a bigger risk of dying than from being shot.

    April 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Jerry

    History tells me the japanese really are not so nice also

    April 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Bill

    The reason for the drop was from the poor economy not from guns. Why must this administration always demonize or twist the facts to achieve what they want.

    April 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. Jerard

    This administration will go to no lengths in it's quest to destroy the Bill of Rights....not in a million years would Mr. Purple Heart have ever said such nonsense had we not been in this imaginary "conversation" about taking more from the law abiding citizen.

    April 15, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. doug

    Thank goodness less free money given to foreign students and more money for American students. Lets worry about our own befire we guve free education benefits to people that probably don't like democracy anyway. I'm all for giving any of them here that don't like our constitution a free ticket outta here. Besided it has been asian students that have done most of the killing on college campuses, THEY CANNOT ADAPT TO BEING FREE and they can't assmilate and fit in so send them home and end letting them come here and forgetting to go home when student visa is expired or they finish school.

    April 15, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. Name

    Students should be afraid of you Kerry. We know about the tazer ordeal.

    April 15, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. George smith

    Great points, but they don't have to come to the United States for higher education; they have higher education in their own country. Nothing force them to the US. Therefore, guns or no guns, these other countries students don't "need" to come to the US, though I see the economic value of the matter that some government officials might elect to be valuable to this country.

    April 15, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Matt

    @ Beverly. The system you just described is communist China. Why dont you go live there and ask their people how happy they are having the government dictate to them everything they can and cannot do.

    April 15, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. Jeb

    "where people are not running around with guns." AHHHH! the sky is falling. They're clinging to their gunz and biblz. Be like Japan now!

    April 15, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Jerard

    and we can thank CNN for "helping" the administration.

    April 15, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. StanSitwell

    So? I'm glad the foreign students are scared. Now we can fill their slots with American students.

    April 15, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. munford

    Good – hope they will get out and make way for American students then...

    April 15, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. duane - st.pete FL

    then dont come here.......:)

    April 15, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Brian Thetford

    why was this printed? this is not news. We all know Kerry does not like guns. more to the point, I think what Kerry is really saying is that if the Government controlled the people the way Japan does, then life would be good......unless you as a Japanese person that.....they might be prone to disagree with that assessment.

    April 15, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. qanerd

    So typical of John Kerry. The US is always at fault in JK's book, from his atrocity testimony back in the Viet Nam era to today. One of these days this man is going to find something he likes about this country; one of these days pigs will learn to fly.
    The US has rights enshrined in its Constitution that very few people in the world have. Tough if you don't like it.
    I used to live in Hawaii where one of the top tourist attractions for the Japanese was going to a shooting range, spending exorbitant amounts of money on shooting the guns they were so afraid of and going home all gunhorny.
    My advice for those afraid is to stay home.

    April 15, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. ChicagoAl2

    The 2nd Amendment afirms a natural right to protect yourself and your family from harm while in your home or in public. File this article under "who cares what foreign students think".

    April 15, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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