Tokyo Medical U. set to reach settlement over entrance exam scandal

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The campus of Tokyo Medical University is seen in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, in August 2018.

Tokyo Medical University is expected to reach a settlement over unfair treatment of women and some others in entrance examinations for the university’s medical school, with compensation to be paid via a consumer organization that filed a lawsuit on behalf of affected applicants, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The settlement is expected to be reached as early as in July at the Tokyo District Court between the university and the Consumers Organization of Japan (COJ), according to sources. As one of the settlement’s main points, the private educational institution will pay about ¥57 million to the nonprofit organization. The amount is almost equal to the total sum of exam fees and other fees that about 560 participants in the court proceedings paid as applicants when they took the entrance exams in question.

The lawsuit was filed by the COJ on behalf of applicants who sat for the entrance exams, in which Tokyo Medical University’s School of Medicine manipulated the scores of female examinees to their disadvantage, as well as those of ronin applicants who had spent multiple years preparing for entrance tests after leaving high school.

The lawsuit, which demanded the university refund exam fees to affected applicants and cover other costs they paid to take the tests, is based on the special law concerning court proceedings for the collective redress for property damage incurred by consumers, which came into effect in 2016.

The proceedings have been divided into two stages. At the first stage, the district court found in March last year that the university had manipulated scores of the particular groups of applicants to their disadvantage. The ruling, which was later finalized, stipulates that the university is obliged to cover the costs that affected applicants paid to take its entrance exams. They cost ¥40,000 or ¥60,000 per session.

The second stage of procedures began in July last year to determine how much each participant can receive from the university. In November that year, the COJ submitted to the district court a list of about 560 affected applicants as participants in the procedures. Most of them are female applicants and those who had been out of high school for multiple years when they took the university’s entrance exams in 2017 and 2018, only to receive unsuccessful results.

The amount claimed totaled about ¥66 million, including compensation for the COJ in addition to the applicants’ costs to take the entrance exams.

A settlement draft, which was prepared through discussions between Tokyo Medical University and the COJ, stipulates that the university pay about ¥57 million to the nonprofit organization, according to sources. The university has refused payments to some of the participants in the court procedures, saying that whether they actually took the exams cannot be confirmed. The COJ plans to remove them from the participant list.

The nonprofit organization will soon report the settlement plan to each participant to confirm who is willing to accept it. As many are expected to agree, a settlement will be reached for such participants as early as in July when the next session of the court procedures is held, according to sources.