Utah has been selected to participate in a program that will bring 40 students from Japan for a whole year of their high school experience.

The selection of Utah followed a thorough investigation of potential host locations. A Japanese high school principal, Mikio Kawabata, conceived the idea and visited the United States and Canada three years ago to determine where he would want his students to study for a year.He chose Utah because of the quality of its schools, safety, the beauty of the environment and the warm reception he had here, said Reiko Yamamoto, Salt Lake City.

Yamamoto and his wife, Shu, have been asked to help locate homes in which the students can live for 10 months while going to school. Interested parties may call him at 967-8792. The Yamamotos hope to place the teenagers in the area from Ogden to Provo for ease in coordinating their visits.

Kawabata has designed a three-year college preparation course for his students that includes the one-year American experience. He first had to convince the Tokyo Department of Education to accept the American credits. Japanese students who participate in student exchange programs are expected to take an additional year of school in their own country.

Interest in the program has been high in Japan, Yamamoto said. A Tokyo television station spotlighted Kawabata's school and generated many calls from people interested in participating.

A Japanese university has offered admission from the foreign-study students upon their return to Japan, pending successful completion of the country's college entrance examination. The students will be challenged because it generally requires the full high school time in their country to prepare for their examinations, while they will spend one of those years studying English.

Japanese educators are expected to follow the experiment closely, Yamamoto said.