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Showa Univ. medical school also suspected of discriminating against female applicants

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- In an investigation conducted in response to a scandal at Tokyo Medical University in which applicants who had made multiple attempts at getting into the medical school and female applicants were placed at a disadvantage over first-time male applicants, similar suspicions have arisen at Showa University here in the capital, sources familiar with the case told the Mainichi Shimbun on Oct. 13.

Similar suspicions have arisen at multiple medical schools, including the one at Juntendo University, also in Tokyo. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is seeking detailed explanations for these allegations from each of the universities.

According to an investigative report on the issue released by the education ministry in September, the average acceptance rate at Showa University medical school in the past six years was 6.5 percent for male applicants and 4.3 percent for female applicants, meaning it was 1.54 times easier for male applicants to be accepted than female applicants. Of the 81 universities nationwide with undergraduate medical departments, this gender gap was the second largest after that at Juntendo University.

The education ministry conducted an on-site survey at Showa University based on these results. It is said to have found that applications from women and those who had attempted to enter the facility before were handled differently from first-time male applicants. Moreover, certain applicants were given priority treatment over others -- even though such differences in the treatment of applicants were not noted in the medical school's application guidelines.

At the time of the September probe, Showa University said that it had not taken part in any rigging of entrance applications and exams. But in response to questions from the Mainichi on Oct. 12, it replied in writing, "We will refrain from commenting on individual inquiries as the case is currently under review by the education ministry."

At an Oct. 12 press conference, Education Minister Masahiko Shibayama revealed that there were suspicions that the application and acceptance process had been manipulated at multiple universities, but did not reveal specific university names or the kinds of irregularities. Instead, he said that he wanted the schools to come forward themselves.

The ministry is expanding its probe to 80 universities other than Tokyo Medical University, and is set to compile an interim report later this month.

(Japanese original by Takuya Izawa, City News Department)

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