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Japan Medical School Apologizes for Hurting Women’s Admissions Chances

10 August 2018

Japanese media reported that university for years rigged results of female applicants.

University vice president Keisuka Miyazawa said such alterations "should never happen" and pledged that next year's exams would be fair.

The manipulation was revealed during an investigation into the alleged "backdoor entry" of an education ministry bureaucrat's son in exchange for favourable treatment for the school in obtaining research funds.

Japanese media last week reported that the university had for years been lowering the scores of female applicants in order to keep the ratio of women in the school at 30 per cent or lower.

Bribery investigations into the admission of a senior education ministry official's son found scores were manipulated to favour men more than women and thus reduce the number of women admitted. However, they said they had been unaware of the manipulation.

The practice had reportedly been going on for more than a decade. The lawyers' report is expected to be released on Tuesday afternoon.

Almost 50% of Japanese women are college educated - one of the world's highest levels - but they often face discrimination in the workforce.

"Factors suggesting very serious discrimination against women was also part of it", added Nakai, one of the external lawyers the university hired to investigate the incident.

Medical school authorities have called a news conference for 5pm.

The investigation showed the scores of men - including those reappearing after failing once or twice - were raised a certain number of points.

The university also disliked accepting male applicants who had failed a number of times because they also tend to fail the national exam for medical practitioners, which would bring down the university's ratio of successful applicants and hurt its reputation, according to the sources.

"It's extremely disturbing if the university didn't let women pass the exams because they think it's hard to work with female doctors", public broadcaster NHK quoted her saying Tuesday. Kyoko Tanebe, an obstetrician and a director of the Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women, pointed to doctors' workstyle presupposing "selfless devotion" and long working hours as sources of the problem.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a priority of creating a society "where women can shine", but women in Japan still face an uphill battle in employment and face hurdles returning to work after childbirth, which contributes to a falling birthrate.

Entrance exam discrimination against women was "absolutely unacceptable", Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters last week, however.

Japan Medical School Apologizes for Hurting Women’s Admissions Chances