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Student, 'intermediary' reported to prosecutors over Japan entrance exam cheating

The Metropolitan Police Department headquarters is seen in Tokyo in this file photo. (Mainichi/Kenji Yoneda)

TOKYO -- The Metropolitan Police Department on Feb. 10 sent papers to public prosecutors on a 19-year-old student over alleged university entrance exam cheating, as well as on a 28-year-old systems engineer accused of setting up connections to unwitting university students outside the exam venue to feed her answers mid-test, an investigative source told the Mainichi Shimbun.

    The student turned herself in to Kagawa Prefectural Police on Jan. 27 for cheating and leaking a university entrance exam question online. The leak took place during the "World History B" section of the standardized Common Test for University Admissions, and police said that both the 19-year-old and the 28-year-old intermediary have admitted to fraudulent obstruction of business.

    According to the source, they recommended "protective observation" for the university student, and left prosecutors to decide whether to indict the systems engineer. The teenage student and the man met through a friend-matching site about six months prior to the incident. The student reportedly asked the man to help her in return for money. It is believed they have never met in person.

    The two are suspected of obstructing the business of the National Center for University Entrance Examinations in Tokyo's Meguro Ward during the morning exam on Jan. 15 by sending images of a question from the World History B test to four unsuspecting University of Tokyo students on the online communications app Skype, and getting their answers.

    The teenage student signed up for an exam tutoring site in December 2021, and represented herself as a second-year high school student when she used the site's messaging function to contact several university students including at the prestigious University of Tokyo. She then asked them to answer questions she would send them on Jan. 15 -- the first day of the standardized university entrance exams.

    The man received a video of the exam problem that the student took while sitting the test, edited it into an image, and sent it to the University of Tokyo students from the female student's Skype account. The students sent back answers without knowing that it was from the standardized entrance exam, but one student became suspicious and contacted the National Center for University Entrance Examinations. The center filed a claim with the Metropolitan Police Department.

    The police were investigating the case when the 19-year-old student from Osaka turned herself in on Jan. 27 to Marugame Police Station in Kagawa Prefecture. She admitted to cheating and leaking the exam question, saying, "I hid my smartphone in the sleeve of my top and took a video, and changed it into an image and sent it." During voluntary questioning, the student hinted at there being a coconspirator; metropolitan police identified the man and built a case around the two parties.

    (Japanese original by Kazuki Mogami, Takuya Suzuki and Maki Kihara, Tokyo City News Department)

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