A Tokyo medical school has apologised for altering exam scores to let more men onto its courses.
Tokyo Medical University had systematically changed entrance exam results since 2000 or earlier, an investigation revealed.
“We sincerely apologise for the serious wrongdoing involving entrance exams that has caused concern and trouble for many people and betrayed the public’s trust,” university director Tetsuo Yukioka said.
Mr Yukioka, who denied any prior knowledge of wrongdoing, added: “I suspect that there was a lack of sensitivity to the rules of modern society, in which women should not be treated differently because of their gender.”
The scandal was discovered during an investigation into the admission of a ministry official’s son, who has now been charged, with his father, for allegedly securing favourable treatment in exchange for funds.
It was found the student was given 20 extra points after failing the exam multiple times, narrowly granting him entry to the school.
Studies have shown that the share of female doctors passing Japan’s national medical exam has remained at about 30% for around 20 years.
Some commentators suspect this indicates other medical schools may be discriminating against women.
As he made his apology, Mr Yukioka urged the importance of “utilising” women and said he thought organisations that did not would fail to contribute to society.
It is believed the gap between educational achievement among women and their success in the workplace is particularly marked in Japan, where nearly 50% are college educated, but only 12.4% of legislators and senior management workers are women.
General female workforce participation, however, is above average in the OECD – around 66% of women were working in 2016.
“The world’s getting more equal than in the past, but we are still looked down upon as women,” university student Yumi Matsuda said. “I really hope we get more equal.”
Japan’s gender equality minister Seiko Noda said: “It is extremely regrettable if medical schools share a view that having female doctors work at hospitals is troublesome.”