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A former university professor and an ex-member of the committee that prepares the national dental examinations admitted Monday to being involved in the leaking of exam questions in violation of the Dental Practitioners Law.

Testifying at their first hearing before the Tokyo District Court were former Ohu University professor Kenji Kusunoki, 54, and former committee member and Health Sciences University of Hokkaido professor Itsuo Ueda, 59.

Ueda admitted leaking information regarding questions in the area of oral hygiene for last March’s exam to Kusunoki, who was his junior at Osaka Dental University. The exam must be passed to obtain a dentistry license.

A third man, Nippon Dental University professor and former exam committee member Motoo Niwa, 56, also stands accused of taking part in the leak. His trial begins May 14.

According to the indictment, Kusunoki — in an effort to boost the pass rate of students at Ohu, a private university in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture — approached Ueda and Niwa, whom he came to know at gatherings of dental experts, and asked them to give him information regarding the test.

Ueda testified that he was asked to leak the information to Kusunoki by Niwa, and that he did so out of consideration of the relationships with the other two men.

Prosecutors charged that information regarding questions began leaking from the 1999 exam, adding that Niwa agreed to give Kusunoki the information in the hope that the favor would be returned, telling the latter, “Since you (Kusunoki) too will soon become an exam committee member.”

Kusunoki and Niwa approached Ueda, and the two committee members began exchanging information via fax. Ueda drew up notes based on the data and sent it to Kusunoki.

The leaks came to light after a man claiming to be a prep school student contacted the Health Ministry prior to the March test to say that information regarding exam questions had been leaked.

Eighteen questions similar to those for the national exam were included in the graduation exam for Ohu University students that was held Feb. 17 and 18. In addition, Kusunoki gave lectures regarding 11 of those questions on Feb. 29.

The ministry, which has since been assimilated into the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, replaced all 25 questions on oral hygiene in the March 2000 national exam.

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