Tokyo Medical University admits subtracting points from repeat male applicants’ scores and boosting others to secure donations

by Chisato Tanaka

Staff Writer

Lawyers tasked with investigating Tokyo Medical University’s alleged discrimination against female prospective students said Tuesday that they have confirmed the practice occurred, and criticized the actions taken by the institution.

They also said they have confirmed further discriminatory practice against male applicants who took the test for at least a fourth time.

“(This conduct) deceives society and includes practices that significantly discriminate against females. All the officials who have been involved in this fraud have to be replaced and the school needs to come together to conduct reforms from scratch,” Kenji Nakai, one of the lawyers in charge of the investigation, told a news conference.

Lawyers for the university who conducted the internal investigation into the matter issued a report acknowledging that the school had engaged in systematic discriminatory scoring, possibly as early as a decade ago. They confirmed that the automatic computer scoring system had effectively deducted points from all female applicants since 2006, as well as male applicants who were taking the exam for the fourth time or more. The university also admitted to adding extra points to the scores of 18 students in return for donations to the school.

The discriminatory practices had been kept hidden from the applicants.

In order to maintain neutrality and impartiality, personal lawyers who work for the school were excluded from the investigation.

“This discrimination against women is something that should have never happened. We will abolish it,” Tetsuo Yukioka, executive regent at Tokyo Medical University, told a separate news conference. Keisuke Miyazawa, acting president of the university, said, “To those persons whom we have caused tremendous hardship, especially female candidates whom we have hurt, we will do everything we can.”

The Tokyo Medical University’s admissions process consists of two stages, the first of which is a multiple-choice test. Those who pass that test are asked to submit an essay and are brought in for interviews.

In this year’s and last year’s entrance exams, the school subtracted points from all applicants by multiplying scores for the second part of the assessment by 0.8 and then adding 20 points to the scores of all male applicants who were taking the exam for the first or second time, and an 10 extra points to male applicants who were taking the exam for the third time.

The university did not award any extra points to female or male applicants who had taken the exam four times or more, meaning they could only receive a maximum of 80 points out of 100 even if they answered all questions correctly. This year, because the school had increased the number of points that examinees could gain during the second part of the assessment, more points were added for men compared to last year.

Kyodo News reports that the school was said to have subtracted the points in order to keep the ratio of women studying at the university at about 30 percent, but the investigators did not uncover the existence of such a benchmark. The lawyer said that during interviews with university officials, the reasoning cited by admission committee members is that the school aims to avoid a shortage of doctors at affiliated hospitals, as many women doctors tend to take leave to look after their families.

In regard to the point reduction aimed at male applicants who had taken the exams four times or more, Yuji Uematsu, another lawyer who was involved with the investigation, heard a few exam administrators say that they were reluctant to accept them because older doctors are likely to quit working at university hospitals and start their own clinics. The controversial conduct was discovered during the course of an internal investigation by university lawyers looking into a bribery scandal involving the institution’s top executives and a senior education ministry official.

The score manipulations were ordered by former Chairman Masahiko Usui, 77, with the approval of former President Mamoru Suzuki, 69. It is alleged that a few other university officials are also involved.

In July, Usui and Suzuki resigned as the chairman and president of the university, respectively, following allegations that they had accepted bribes in the form of a government subsidy from education ministry bureaucrat, Futoshi Sato, 59, as payment for guaranteeing his son’s acceptance into the school. All three have since been indicted.

During entrance exams over the last two years, the school was found to have added as many as 49 points to applications by 18 individuals, including Sato’s son, during the first stage of the entrance exam process. Usui and Suzuki received grants or donations in return from the applicants who were accepted into the university because of the additional points.

According to the report, Usui participated in the scheme in order to collect donations to the university from the graduates.

An extra 20 points were added to the scores of Sato’s son during the first and second exam, which boosted his rank from 151st to 87th. Without the extra points, he would have been sent to the waiting list.

The school submitted a report on their investigation into the discriminatory practices to the education ministry on Tuesday. Education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said that it is unacceptable to conduct exams in a discriminatory manner based on age and gender and that he will decide what action to take against the school based on the report