A Tokyo medical school has apologized after an internal investigation confirmed it altered entrance exam scores for more than a decade to limit the number of female students and ensure more men became doctors.
Tokyo Medical University manipulated all entrance exam results starting in 2006 or even earlier, according to findings released by lawyers involved in the investigation, confirming recent reports in Japanese media.
The school said the manipulation should not have occurred and would not in the future. It said it would consider retroactively admitting those who otherwise would have passed the exams, although it did not explain how it would do so.
The manipulation was revealed during an investigation into the alleged “backdoor entry” of an education ministry bureaucrat’s son in exchange for favorable treatment for the school in obtaining research funds. The bureaucrat and the former head of the school have been charged with bribery.
The investigation found that in this year’s entrance exams the school reduced all applicants’ first-stage test scores by 20% and then added at least 20 points for male applicants, except those who had previously failed the test at least four times. It said similar manipulations had occurred for years because the school wanted fewer female doctors since it anticipated they would shorten or halt their careers after becoming mothers.
The education ministry official’s son, who had failed the exam three times, was given a total of 20 additional points, which eventually elevated him to just above the cutoff line.
The report said the manipulation was “profound sexism”, according to lawyer Kenji Nakai. He said the investigation also suggested that the school’s former director took money from some parents who sought preferential treatment for their sons and that the manipulation was part of a deep-rooted culture that lacked fairness and transparency.
Nearly 50% of Japanese women are college educated — one of the world’s highest levels — but they often face discrimination in the workforce. Women also are considered responsible for homemaking, childrearing and elderly care, while men are expected to work long hours and outside care services are limited.
Gender equality minister Seiko Noda was quoted by Kyodo News as saying: “It is extremely regrettable if medical schools share a view that having female doctors work at hospitals is troublesome.”