Photo/Illutration Representatives of five girls' high schools, Kumamoto Governor Ikuo Kabashima, third from right, and TV personality Suzanne, second from right, hailing from Kumamoto Prefecture, during the open debate at a summit in Kumamoto’s Chuo Ward on Nov. 16. (Azusa Mishima)

KUMAMOTO--Students from five girls' high schools from around the country held a summit here to protest sexism in Japan’s medical college entrance exams and elsewhere.

The harsh reality of bias against women in Japan became headline news last year after Tokyo Medical University was caught rigging entrance exam scores to limit the number of female students.

The students discussed the situation of working women and other topics at the Nov. 16 meeting, organized by Kumamoto Shin-Ai High School here, with 350 people in attendance.

Futaba Yonekura, a member of the summit's organizing committee in her second year at Kumamoto Shin-Ai High School, said she was shocked last year to learn about the Tokyo Medical University scandal in which female applicants were discriminated against.

“My friends who want to study medicine are studying hard every day,” Yonekura said, who with a friend visited 30 corporations to raise funds for their activities to increase awareness about sexism.

“Their efforts may prove useless just because of their gender. I think it's wrong to simply accept the practice and become adults.”

Kenmei Joshi Gakuin High School in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, Saint Joseph Joshi Gakuen High School in Tsu, Nanzan High School in Nagoya and Ohyu Gakuen Girls’ Senior High School in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward also participated.

Speakers from Nanzan High School presented results of their survey covering 200 parents or guardians that showed many women quit companies or altered their work styles after marrying or having children. Women were also doing more housework than men, the findings showed.

Students proposed raising the number of female lawmakers to reflect the experiences of women in politics and fight to enable women to keep working, and that men should do an equal share of the housework.

Representatives of Ohyu Gakuen Girls’ Senior High School mentioned a diaper commercial showing a mother taking care of her child alone, as an example of inequality in society.

“People need to be aware this is not OK,” said a representative of the school.

Toward the end of the meeting, Hikari Inagaki, a second-year student at Saint Joseph Joshi Gakuen High School, read the summit declaration, saying, “We will join hands, think and act together to combat the absurd inequality that exists in society.”

Following the summit, Yonekura said she thought it was productive for the students to share their views on sexism.

“I felt that if high school students keep speaking up about it, we can eliminate the gender gap,” Yonekura said.