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Juntendo Univ. medical school suspected of discriminating against female applicants

Juntendo University's medical school is seen in this file photo taken in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward. (Mainichi/Junko Dozaki)

TOKYO -- Juntendo University is among institutions suspected of discriminating against medical school applicants based on gender and how many times they had failed entrance examinations, people familiar with the matter have told the Mainichi Shimbun.

All universities that have medical departments told an Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry survey that they had never discriminated against applicants. The survey was conducted following revelations that Tokyo Medical University had manipulated students' entrance exam scores to admit fewer women.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is seen in this file photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, on July 26, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

Juntendo's gap between the ratio of successful male versus female exam takers was highest among all 81 institutions with medical schools in Japan. The average pass rate for male applicants over the past six years stood at 9.2 percent, while the figure for females was 5.5 percent.

The university's public relations division stated, "We're considering how to respond to the matter. We'd like to refrain from commenting on it."

An individual close to the university hinted that the university has manipulated entrance exam results. "We've never been involved in illicit practices such as backdoor admission or discrimination against women, but we've made some adjustments (to the exam outcomes) between male and female applicants."

At a news conference on Oct. 12, education minister Masahiko Shibayama said multiple institutions have treated female applicants and those who failed in past entrance exams differently from first-time male applicants.

"There are strong suspicions of wrongdoing. We see no rational reasons for this disparity in treatment," Shibayama said.

The education minister stopped short of specifying the names or number of universities suspected of having been involved in such wrongdoing among other details because a probe into the allegations is ongoing, and releasing such information could cause concern to medical school applicants.

However, he urged medical schools involved in such discriminatory practices to "clarify why they took such measures without a prior explanation."

The success rate for male applicants for university medical departments was above the figure for female applicants at 60 to 70 percent of the institutions over the past six years, according to a ministry survey.

In response to the outcome, ministry officials visited about 30 universities where the success rate for female applicants was particularly low. The officials confirmed objective data at multiple institutions showing that the schools discriminated against applicants based on age and gender, and gave priority to certain applicants, according to those familiar with the probe.

The education ministry will compile an interim report on the matter by the end of this month and instruct universities across the country not to adjust applicants' exam scores based on gender and other factors.

The ministry aims to announce the final outcome of the probe by the end of this year.

(Japanese original by Takuya Izawa and Kazuki Mogami, City News Department)

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