A Japanese medical school deliberately marked down women’s test scores for at least a decade, an investigation panel claimed on Tuesday, describing it as a “very serious” case of discrimination.
According to an internal investigation at Tokyo Medical School, authorities repeatedly marked women’s entrance scores down in order to reduce the number of women admitted over a belief that they were more likely to quit the profession should they have children.
Lawyers indicated that although they did not know how many women were affected by the policy, the practice had been going on for around a decade.
“This incident is really regrettable—by deceptive recruitment procedures, they sought to delude the test takers, their families, school officials and society as a whole,” said lawyer Kenji Nakai, who was part of the investigative panel, at a news conference. “Factors suggesting very serious discrimination against women was also part of it.”
Meanwhile, Japanese education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi strongly condemned the policy. Before coming to power, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to create a society “where women can shine.”
“We are asking (Tokyo Medical University) to investigate and report as soon as possible how entrance exams have been practiced and if it has been properly done,” Hayashia said in a press conference on Friday. “We will wait for their report and consider how we respond. In general, unjust discriminatory selection of entrants for women is totally unacceptable.”
The school’s executive regent and chair of its diversity promotion panel Tetsuo Yukioka said the school must adapt to a changing society.
“Society is changing rapidly and we need to respond to that and any organization that fails to utilize women will grow weak,” he said. “I guess that thinking had not been absorbed.”
The scandal comes amid a growing discussion of Japanese women’s role in the workplace in what remains a highly dominated male society.
Under recent projections by Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research., the current Japanese population of 127 million will fall by nearly 40 million by 2065, while figures released in 2016 found that the population dropped by over one million people between 2010 and 2015.