• Kyodo

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A court ruled Friday that Tokyo Medical University, which has admitted to rigging its exams to limit the entrance of female and some male applicants, is obligated to reimburse candidates who were penalized.

“The manipulation of scores violated the principle of equality enshrined by the Constitution and there is a strong suspicion that the university acted illegally against the applicants,” said presiding Judge Tatsuro Maezawa in the ruling by the Tokyo District Court.

Tokyo Medical University deducted points from the scores of women and previously unsuccessful male candidates who took its entrance exams in 2017 and 2018, according to the ruling.

The suit was brought by the Consumers Organization of Japan, a body certified by the state, to confirm that the university was obliged to reimburse the expenses incurred by candidates who were penalized in the exam rigging.

If the ruling is finalized, the organization will ask those affected to join the process under which the Tokyo court will determine the amount of individual compensation to be paid.

The university admitted in 2018 that it had manipulated its exam scores for over 10 years to curb female enrollment in the belief that women tend to resign or take long periods of leave after marrying or giving birth.

Male applicants who had previously failed were discriminated against as they were more likely to fail the national exam for medical practitioners, hurting the university’s reputation, it said.

Maezawa said the students would not have applied had they known their exam scores would be manipulated, determining the university was obligated to pay compensation for exam fees and expenses related to the submission of application documents.

However, the court rejected the consumer group’s claim that the university should compensate applicants for their travel expenses, saying each individual’s circumstances needed to be examined and the procedure for collective redress could not be applied.

Tokyo Medical University said it will “closely examine the ruling” and consider its response.

It was the first such ruling under a 2016 special law on collective redress for consumers.

The discovery of the score manipulation by Tokyo Medical University led to a government probe, bringing to light similar cases of rigging by Juntendo University and other medical schools.

The consumer body has filed a similar lawsuit against Juntendo University with the Tokyo District Court.

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