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Japanese University Buys Land for First U.S. High School

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A leading Japanese university has announced plans to build a private high school in the United States that will offer a traditional Japanese education.

The school, which will be located on the campus of Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., will prepare students for the rigorous entrance exams required for admission to Japanese universities. Although intended primarily for the children of Japanese nationals, the school will also be open to some American students.

The Westchester County high school, the first of its kind in this country, will be run by Keio University of Tokyo, the country's oldest private university and considered by many to be one of Japan's top educational institutions. Keio is also affiliated with three high schools in Japan.

The Japanese government now supports two private grade schools, in the New York City and Chicago areas, and an independent, private Japanese grade school has been established in Los Angeles.

20-Acre Site

The trustees of both Keio and Manhattanville last week approved the plan, which now awaits the approval of the local zoning board. Keio officials purchased 20 acres from Manhattanville for the school, which is expected to open in 1990.

Manhattanville officials declined last week to disclose the purchase price for the property, which totals about a sixth of the institution's total acreage.

The school will offer both American and Japanese subject matter, and will emphasize the in-depth math and science curriculum typical of a Japanese precollegiate program, Manhattanville officials said. It will provide fewer electives than an American secondary school.

George Dehne, a spokesman for Manhattanville, said the new coeducational high school will open with 400 10th-to-12th-grade students, half of whom will be boarders. Superior students will be able to bypass Japan's university entrance examinations and will be offered admission to Keio, he said.

Mr. Dehne said a Japanese principal, appointed by Keio, is beginning to assemble the American and Japanese teaching staff for the high school, known as Keio Gijuku New York Gakuin in Japanese. He said Japanese-language-proficiency levels for American students seeking admission have not yet been established.

Keio thought Manhattanville was an attractive location for the new school because about 11,000 of the estimated 30,000 Japanese nationals who live in the New York City area reside in Westchester County, according to Mr. Dehne.

New Options

Officials at the Japanese Embassy in Washington said there is no reliable estimate of the total number of Japanese nationals living in the United States.

Observers said the school will offer new options for the children of Japanese nationals who work in the United States, many of whom find that their Japanese-language skills slacken when they attend American schools.

"The children have to have a proper Japanese education if they want to go to a Japanese [university]," said Toshiko Takahara, an information officer in the Japanese Consulate in New York City. "They cannot catch up if they stay here."

As a result, she said, many male Japanese nationals working in the United States currently leave their wives and children behind to ensure that the children receive the sort of education that will help them gain admission to a leading Japanese university.

Attending a prestigious university, she said, is often a prerequisite to attaining a position with a Japanese company after graduation. (See Education Week's special report on schooling in Japan, Feb. 20, 27, and March 6, 1985.)

"They want their children to experience America, but they want them to work in a Japanese company," she said.

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