U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently made a (somewhat understandable) point about gun violence and education. He was, however, basically wrong. Speaking to CNN on Monday, Kerry said that foreign students were reluctant to study in the United States because of campus shootings. As he put it:

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 may well have received that response from officials, but it’s inaccurate. While the number of Japanese students studying in the U.S. declined 14 percent between 2010 and 2011, in fact, as CNN explained,

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.

I’m sure the guns, which the Japanese essentially can’t privately own at all, don’t help, but firearm violence doesn’t really explain the trend. The number of Japanese students studying in the United States has declined every year since 2005, according to Institute for International Education.[Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer