The Wall Street Journal this morning published a sob story about the excessive difficulty of the California Bar Exam, which in 2004 was passed by only 44% of those taking the test. The WSJ does not tell its readers that the Japanese Bar Exam is passed by only 3% of aspiring attorneys. Lucky Japan! There must be considerably less unnecessary litigation in the Land of the Rising Sun.
But even the Japanese Bar Exam’s legendarily low pass rate looks like a piece of cake compared to the under 1% passing rate of the hardest test, the Japanese 8th dan Kendo examination (46:44 minute video).
There are more than two million practioners of the sport of Kendo, the art of Japanese fencing, in Japan. Since WWII, only 400 of these have successfully made it past the 8th dan examination. The Japanese Kendo Association actually distingushes ten levels (dan) of mastery of the sport, but the 8th dan, hachi dan, is the last level requiring a physical test, and the most difficult.