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Juntendo U. medical school rejected 165 women, others despite good entrance exam scores

Juntendo University President Hajime Arai, right, and medical school chief Hiroyuki Daita, bow in apology over the school's questionable treatment of female and other applicants in entrance examinations, during a press conference in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward on Dec. 10, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

TOKYO -- Juntendo University announced on Dec. 10 that its medical school turned down a total of 165 applicants -- 121 women plus 44 others who had failed the school's entrance exam in the past -- in 2017 and 2018 despite performing well at least the first phase of the two-tier test.

The applicants comprise 48 who are now determined to have passed both test tiers and 117 who were actually successful in the first phase but were not allowed to move on to the second phase. The school will ask the first group if they are still interested in attending, while the second group will receive a test fee refund, according to school officials.

The revelation came on the heels of scandals at a number of medical schools in Japan, such as Tokyo Medical University and Showa University, in which female and repeat applicants were discriminated against in entrance exam grading.

The questionable practice at Juntendo came to light in an investigation by a third-party panel consisting of outside lawyers. Now the panel will check if similar methods were used in screening applicants in 2008 and later.

According to Juntendo University, in the first phase of the entrance exam, applicants were asked to answer multiple-choice questions and other problems requiring written answers. A total of some 600 applicants were initially judged to have passed this stage, the first toward the final selection of 60 entrants. However, women and repeat test-takers not in the top 200 among this initial group were dropped. As a result, 52 applicants including 32 women in 2017, and 65 including 42 women in 2018, were not able to go on to the second-phase test although their score was high enough to do so.

In the second-phase test in which applicants mainly had to write an essay and attend an interview, the passing line for female candidates was 0.5 points higher than their male counterparts, regardless of their performance in the first-stage test. This arrangement caused 24 women to be rejected in 2017 and 23 in 2018. In the latter year, one applicant with past entrance exam failures was also turned down, although the school refused to reveal more details, citing "special circumstances."

(Japanese original by Takuya Izawa, City News Department)

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