Tokyo university apologises after women deliberately marked down to limit numbers

Tetsuo Yukioka managing director of Tokyo Medical University

"We betrayed the public's trust".

The allegations surfaced after the medical school came under the scanner for granting admission to the son a top education bureaucrat in exchange of a favour.

Keisuke Miyazawa, acting president of the university, said he plans to hold talks with the government on the possibility of accepting students retroactively if it was found that their examination scores had been tampered with.

The lawyers said they did not know how many women had been affected, but it appeared that women's test scores had been affected going back at least a decade. The initial media reports on the scandal said the manipulation removed as much as 10 per cent of female applicants in some years.

The education ministry official's son, who had failed the exam three times, was given 20 additional points, elevating his score above the cutoff line.

The sources also said that there were examination invigilators at the university that used a specific manual to guide the process of manipulating students' points to control the enrollment process.

The manipulation was "nothing but discrimination against women", said one of the lawyers hired by the university to investigate the alterations, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday.

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Recent reports have revealed that the medical school's written admission test is deliberately discriminatory against women, working on a points system where men could score a full 100 and women can only reach 80 out of 100.

"This incident is really regrettable - by deceptive recruitment procedures, they sought to delude the test takers, their families, school officials and society as a whole", lawyer Kenji Nakai told a news conference.

In the second and final test stage, just 2.9 percent of female applicants were admitted, compared with 8.8 percent of male applicants.

"Women often quit after graduating and becoming a doctor, when they get married and have a child", one source told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper when it broke the story last week.

It is understood the senior officials at Tokyo Medical University wanted to keep the number of women at about 30 per cent, so they altered the computerised marking system.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a priority of creating a society "where women can shine", but women in Japan still face an uphill battle in employment and face hurdles returning to work after childbirth, which contributes to a falling birthrate.

Entrance exam discrimination against women was "absolutely unacceptable", Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters last week.

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