University ordered to pay damages for discrimination against women in entry exam

TOKYO: The Tokyo Medical University has been ordered to pay damages totalling 18.26 million yen (US$128,000) to 27 women for discrimination in an entrance exam.

The Tokyo District Court ruled that the women, who sat for entrance exams between 2006 and 2018, were denied a place in the university due to a long-standing practice of rigging test scores to favour male candidates.

According to a report in the Asahi Shimbun, last Friday’s ruling was the second time a medical college had been ordered to compensate female applicants who were discriminated against in entrance exams.

The court also ordered the university to pay the cost of the entrance exams taken by the women, which comes up to 200,000 yen per year per person.

In his ruling, presiding Judge Kyoko Hiraki said the practice violated the spirit of the country’s Constitution and the Fundamental Law on Education ban on gender discrimination.

Due to this, the women were unable to freely choose which medical school they wanted to enter, the judge ruled.

Four of the plaintiffs also received compensation ranging from 1 million yen to 1.5 million yen on grounds they would have passed or had a high possibility of passing had a fair test been conducted.

However, the request of one plaintiff was rejected because there was no record that she took the entrance exam.

Earlier in May, the same court had ordered Juntendo University to compensate 13 female applicants for a total of 8.05 million yen.

Another similar case is still being heard in Kawasaki city, where former female applicants have filed a suit against St. Marianna University School of Medicine in the Kanagawa Prefecture.

According to the Asahi Shimbun report, one of the plaintiffs in the Tokyo Medical University lawsuit was Maya Hasegawa, 45, who failed the entrance exam in 2006.

She was later accepted at a public university medical school and is now a doctor in Tokyo.

At a press conference following the ruling, Hasegawa said she wanted the public to reflect on the fact that persistent discrimination against women was still prevalent.

She said some patients still insisted on having a male doctor examine them.

“Reducing the number of female doctors will not resolve the problem. That is wrong and what should be corrected is a working environment that does not seek out female doctors,” she said.

Although the Tokyo court had ruled in their favour, lawyer Yukiko Tsunoda said the compensation amount was too low.

She said they wanted each plaintiff to receive 2 million yen for each entrance exam they took as well as 5 million yen for those who should have passed had the exam not been rigged.

“Although gender inequality still underlies society, the court did not pay adequate interest to that factor,” Tsunoda said.

“It should have ordered a compensation amount that would have had a greater deterrent effect,” she added.


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