A Tokyo medical school has apologised after an internal investigation confirmed it systematically altered entrance exam scores to limit the number of female students.
Tokyo Medical University manipulated all entrance exam results starting in 2000 or even earlier, according to findings released by lawyers involved in the investigation.
The school said the manipulation should not have occurred and would not in the future, and it will consider retroactively admitting those who otherwise would have passed the exams.
The manipulation was revealed during an investigation of the alleged wrongful admission of a bureaucrat’s son in exchange for favourable treatment for the school in a ministry project. The bureaucrat and the former head of the school have been charged with bribery.
The investigation found that last year the school reduced all applicants’ first-stage test scores by 20% and then added up to 20 points for male applicants, and that similar manipulations had taken place for years.
It said the school wanted fewer female doctors because it anticipated they would shorten or halt their careers after becoming mothers.
“We sincerely apologise for the serious wrongdoing involving entrance exams that has caused concern and trouble for many people and betrayed the public’s trust,” school managing director Tetsuo Yukioka said.
He denied any previous knowledge of the score manipulation and said he was never involved.
Mr Yukioka said women were not treated differently once they were accepted, but acknowledged that some people even believed women were not allowed to become surgeons.
Nearly 50% of Japanese women are college educated — one of the world’s highest levels — but they often face discrimination in the workforce.
Women also are considered responsible for homemaking, childrearing and elderly care, while men are expected to work long hours and outside care services are limited.