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Japan med school sabotaging female applicants – reports

August 2, 2018

New reports from Japanese media say that a prominent Tokyo university has been changing exam results for female applicants. They allege the university hospital fears later staff shortages when women start families.

A Japanese doctor with patient
Image: Imago/O. Maksymenko

Tokyo Medical University found itself at the center of a scandal on Thursday, being accused by multiple media reports of having systematically skewed entrance exam results to favor male applicants.

Separate reports by the Yomiuri newspaper, public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News all said that the school had been cutting women's scores by up to 10 percent over concerns that female doctors quit working when they start families.

Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared it a priority of his to create a society "where women can shine," this has yet to manifest itself in reality. Many women in Japan have university degrees, but they still face discriminatory hiring practices and lower wages, coupled with long working hours and little domestic help from their husbands.

According to the reports, Tokyo Medical University began cutting women's scores because women were doing better on the tests than men. After 38 percent of successful applicants were women in 2010, the college began skewing their scores the next year to keep the number of female medical students at about 30 percent.

University denies knowledge of scandal

The discovery was made as part of a separate probe into allegations of nepotism at the school, where its former director is accused of admitting the son of an important education bureaucrat in exchange for a favor.

A spokesperson for the university said that it was surprised by the claims and would look into the matter.

On social media, the news prompted a wave of outrage across Japan.

"Women are told they have to give birth; if they don't, they're mocked as being 'unproductive,' but then again, just the possibility that they might give birth is used to cut their scores. What's a woman supposed to do?" asked one Japanese woman.

"Entrance exams that unfairly discriminate against women are absolutely not acceptable," said Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, saying he would decide on a response after receiving the results of the university's preliminary investigation into the matter.

Rates of female doctors have been declining for at least two decades, with discriminatory medical school admittance practices being something of an open secret in Japan.

es/kms (AP, Reuters)

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