Secretary of State John Kerry said in Tokyo Monday that fewer Japanese students are coming to the United States because their parents are afraid of gun violence.
Kerry, wrapping up a trip to Asia at a time of high tensions with North Korea, told CNN in an interview that American officials told him that parents think their kids just aren’t safe in the U.S. of A.
"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.
The top U.S. diplomat had been asked whether he had heard concerns during his overseas trip about the ongoing debate in Washington over how best to tamp down gun violence.
While he was in Asia, Kerry said, some foreign officials mentioned “how safe it is over here, in this country, where people are not running around with guns."
It's not clear that the ongoing debate—or the slaughter of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.—has had that much of a chilling effect on students coming to American colleges and universities. But the portrayal of American gun violence in Japanese media has often had a sharp tone, much of it tied to a 1993 incident in which a man shot dead a Japanese exchange student who was on his way to a Halloween party and apparently rang the wrong doorbell.