Women demand compensation over Japan university discrimination


TOKYO: A group of women is demanding compensation from a Japanese medical university that admitted routinely altering the scores of female applicants to keep them out, lawyers said Wednesday.

More than 20 former applicants are demanding Tokyo Medical University make amends for the scandal, which led to the discovery of similar discrimination in other medical schools after prompting a government investigation.

Lawyers for the women, who were rejected by the school after taking entrance exams at the school from 2006 onwards, are expected to present a claim to the university next week.

They acknowledge they cannot yet prove whether they were rejected because of discrimination or insufficient test scores, but are calling on the university to disclose their results.

They are also asking for 100,000 yen ($890) each in compensation for “mental anguish” and for the university to reimburse money they paid to take the entrance exams, travel to the school and stay in the area during the application process.

The women in the group include a doctor, students currently enrolled at other medical schools and women who have taken jobs in other fields.

The university admitted the process of altering the test scores of female applicants began in 2006.

An independent probe said Tuesday that the school had disqualified about a quarter of female applicants who should have been offered places based on their original, unaltered test scores during 2017 and 2018.

“I´m speechless over these numbers — how much weight each one of them carries,” Sakura Uchikoshi, one of the lawyers representing the women, told reporters Wednesday.

The university reportedly sought to keep the percentage of female students low in part because of a belief that women would leave the profession soon after graduation when they married and had families.

The scandal caused outrage in Japan and abroad and prompted an education ministry investigation, in addition to the independent probe.

On Tuesday, the ministry said in an interim report that it had uncovered several more cases where medical schools discriminated against female applicants, as well as those taking the entrance exam for a second or third time.

But the ministry has no plans at present to punish the implicated schools and has declined to name them, while urging them to change their practices.