Alumni Group Donations Affected Job, Promotion Chances at Medical University in Tokyo; Graduates Received Points for Donations

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A section of the application procedure for promotions at Tokyo Women’s Medical University which says that an applicant’s history of donations to Shiseikai will be taken into account.

Tokyo Women’s Medical University (TWMU) took into account the amount donated to its Shiseikai Association alumni group by medical school student graduates when hiring and promoting them to faculty positions, it has been learned.

The school had notified applicants that records of their donations would “affect their evaluation.” Over the course of five years until 2023, about 40 people were found to have made donations both before and after applying for positions. It can be said that a system was established in which positions were effectively bought, which prompted the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry to urge TWMU to conduct an internal investigation and report the results.

According to TWMU, its board decided in May 2018 that a so-called activity status report issued by Shiseikai to individual members would become subject to evaluation when they apply for employment or promotion to the positions of professor, associate professor, lecturer or associate lecturer.

Shiseikai had a membership of about 4,600 TWMU graduates as of March 2024.

Detailed application procedures provided in June 2018 by the School of Medicine’s academic affairs division, said: “We take a look at the history of donations among other conditions. If a record of such is not found, it will affect the evaluation.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A report issued in 2020 showed the amount donated to Shiseikai by an individual graduate as well as her attendance at the group’s workshops and other events over the previous five years. Attendance at an event earned a graduate 0.5 points, and donations were valued at 0.5 points per ¥100,000. Graduates were then ranked in one of five categories, from “very good” – for those with nine points or more – to “very bad” – for those with 1 point or less.

According to a source close to the matter, university directors who also served as Shiseikai board members contacted graduates with low scores and asked for donations, saying, “You don’t have enough points.” TWMU did not indicate the number of points required for employment or promotion.

According to The Yomiuri Shimbun’s inspection of internal documents, at least 70 people asked Shiseikai to issue their activity status reports between June 2018 and March last year. Of these, 55 donated to the group, and 41 of the 55 had donated between ¥100,000 and ¥800,000 before and after submitting applications.

“We have deemed donations to Shiseikai, which engages in activities for public interest, as being a social contribution activity,” TWMU told The Yomiuri Shimbun. “We have not confirmed any reports that we coerced them to make donations.”

Shiseikai dismissed TWMU Chancellor Kinuko Iwamoto from its chairperson’s post in April 2023 on the grounds that it was inappropriate for the current chancellor to also serve as the association’s head. The university abolished the system where donations were part of evaluation procedures for TWMU faculty post applications in October.

The Metropolitan Police Department in March this year searched TWMU headquarters and elsewhere on suspicion of committing aggravated breach of trust under the General Incorporated Associations and General Incorporated Foundations Law, in connection with an allegation that a former Shiseikai employee had illegally received a salary although she was not actually working.

A senior education ministry official said, “Selection of faculty members must be conducted in a fair and proper manner that can be accepted by society.”