Are some foreign exchange students staying away from the U.S. because of gun violence?
That was the assertion made by Secretary of State John Kerry during an interview Monday in Tokyo, Japan. Speaking with CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty, Kerry said that he's had "an interesting discussion" about why Japanese students in particular seemed less enthusiastic about studying in the U.S.
"One of the responses I got from our officials from conversations with parents here is that they're actually scared," Kerry said. "They think they're not safe in the United States and so they don't come."
Inside Higher Ed reports that in 2012, there was actually been an increase in international undergraduate students overall. However, much of this increase was attributed to two countries, China and Saudi Arabia, while several other countries did indeed see declines.
India, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Taiwan all sent fewer students to the U.S. during the 2011-2012 academic year, reported the site, using figures taken from the Institute of International Education.
CNN adds that there may be other reasons for a decrease in Japanese exchange students, including low birthrates in Japan. Yahoo! notes, however, that Japanese have long been aware of gun violence in the U.S., especially following the 1993 shooting death of a Japanese exchange student on Halloween.
Kerry this week wrapped up his first diplomatic tour of Asia, which began in Seoul, South Korea, and ended in Tokyo. A stated goal of the trip was to open in the region a new line of dialogue with North Korea.