The U.S. is a Great Place to Study: Ambassador Baker

Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr.
Special to the Mainichi Shimbun

Japanese students have been a source of pride and benefit to our institutions of higher education and are an important part of the great web of friendship linking our countries. During my time as Ambassador to Japan, I have met the leaders of a number of American colleges and universities. Without fail, they have stressed the contributions that Japanese students have made to their academic institutions.

America is eager for even more Japanese to study in our country.

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent, non-profit exchange organization based in New York, there are currently about 41,000 Japanese students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the United States. In all, there are nearly 600,000 international students enrolled in American universities. I am proud to say that the United States hosts more international students than any other country on earth.

The U.S. is home to many of the world's finest educational institutions, and our colleges and universities actively seek qualified students from abroad. International students bring cultural and intellectual diversity to our campuses and communities and promote greater understanding between Americans and people in other societies.

We maintain a network of Education USA advising centers around the world to provide advice and assistance to students who want to study in the United States. In Tokyo, the Educational Advising Service of the Japan-United States Educational Commission (JUSEC) fields tens of thousands of inquiries from Japanese students each year. You can learn more about their services by going online to

Although in recent years we have implemented new measures to make our borders and the traveling public more secure, we have not changed the basic criteria for visa eligibility to visit or study in the United States.

While students must apply for a visa in person, we are working to make the process of acquiring a student visa easier and quicker. Our Embassy in Tokyo and our Consulates General in Osaka-Kobe and Naha make special arrangements when necessary to expedite interviews for student visa applicants. We want to make sure they can arrive in the U.S. in time to participate in student orientation programs and, of course, to attend the first day of class.

My message is this: we want even more students from Japan to take advantage of the exceptional educational opportunities in the United States. America has the widest possible range of universities and colleges, including public and private schools, rural institutions and urban campuses, small two- and four-year colleges, women's colleges, and large research universities. Although U.S. colleges and universities are diverse, they share many common attributes - flexibility, individual attention, close collaboration between students and professors, hands-on learning and access to the best libraries and laboratories in the world.

Japanese studying in the U.S. gain the language and cross-cultural skills vital to professional success and personal fulfillment in this new century. They also have the opportunity to live in and learn about our open and culturally diverse society and forge life-long international friendships.

With over 3,600 accredited institutions of higher education, America offers numerous options from which to choose. Japanese students will find that the United States is not only a welcoming, safe place to visit, but a great place to study.

This article appeared in the online Mainichi Daily News on Dec. 10, 2004. The Japanese version appeared in the print edition of Mainichi Shimbun.