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'Stop messing around': Japan univ. test takers express rage, joy over shelved English tests

A brochure and application to issue a common ID to take private English tests are seen in this photo taken at the National Center for University Entrance Examinations in Tokyo's Meguro Ward on Nov. 1, 2019. (Mainichi/Motohiro Negishi)

TOKYO -- Many youths voiced anger and confusion after the education ministry abruptly announced on Nov. 1 that the introduction of private English tests to university entrance exams would be postponed, while some expressed relief.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Koichi Hagiuda announced on the morning of Nov. 1 that the ministry decided to postpone the use of such tests, which were scheduled to start in the 2020 academic year.

"Please stop messing around," "It seriously feels like we're being pushed around": These were some of the tweets believed to be from those in their second year of high school -- the group that was preparing to take privately operated English tests under a new standardized university admission exam system.

Meanwhile, some took the news positively, as a Twitter user posted, "I had a lot of doubt (about the new English test system). It's a good thing that financial and geographical gaps among exam takers will be eliminated."

Koichi Hiraoka, principal at the all-boys Seifu High School in Osaka's Tennoji Ward known as a college-prep school, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "As long as questions about the tests' fairness remain, the decision to postpone the introduction of these tests was unavoidable." He added, "All we can tell our students at this point is not to lose their motivation and do their best. The education ministry needs to clarify the processes leading up to the latest decision to high school students."

A male teacher who is in a managerial position at a public high school on a remote island welcomed the ministry's decision, saying, "Travel expenses including the cost of accommodation to take private tests would have been significant. I'm so glad it was postponed."

(Japanese original by Akira Okubo, City News Department)

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