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Student behind Japan univ. entrance exam leak not a first-timer: sources

An entrance exam venue is seen at the University of Tokyo in the capital's Bunkyo Ward in this January 2021 file photo. (Mainichi/Kaho Kitayama)

TOKYO -- The university student who used a smartphone to leak questions from a January entrance exam says she also used the same methods to cheat in 2021 admissions test, investigative sources have told the Mainichi Shimbun.

    The 19-year-old girl from the city of Osaka has been referred to prosecutors on suspicion of fraudulent obstruction of business, due to allegations she photographed exam questions during the Common Test for University Admissions and leaked the images to outsiders.

    The systems engineer, 28, accused of aiding the misconduct is suspected to have also been involved in her exam cheating in 2021 and been rewarded for it. A resident of Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture, he was reported to prosecutors on the same charges.

    According to investigative sources, the duo allegedly used Skype to send images of questions in the "World History B" section mid-test on the morning of Jan. 15 to four University of Tokyo students who were unaware of the fraudulent tactics. They later received answers from them, in a series of actions that thereby obstructed the business of exam operator the National Center for University Entrance Examinations. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) sent papers accusing the pair to prosecutors on Feb. 10.

    Specifically, it is thought that footage the 19-year-old took with a smartphone was edited into stills by the systems engineer from outside, and that the images were sent to the University of Tokyo students from the girl's Skype account.

    The 19-year-old met the systems engineer through a friend matching site, and asked him to help in return for a 120,000-yen (about $1,000) reward. While the duo employed similar tactics to cheat in last year's standardized university admissions test, the girl was quoted as telling investigative sources that the operation "didn't go well."

    The 19-year-old already attends a university in Osaka Prefecture, but took the uniform entrance exam again this year because she had aspired to enter a prestigious private university in Tokyo.

    "I'm looking to become a TV newsreader, and wanted so badly to get into a famous college in Tokyo," she was quoted as telling investigators.

    When referring the duo to prosecutors, the MPD included its view effectively suggesting the girl should be put under probation, while a decision on whether to indict the systems engineer should be left to prosecutors.

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

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