Photo/Illutration Maya Hasegawa speaks with reporters Sept. 9 after the Tokyo District Court ruled on discriminatory entrance exam practices at Tokyo Medical University. (Kyota Tanaka)

A court ordered Tokyo Medical University to pay damages totaling 18.26 million yen ($128,000) to 27 women who sat for entrance exams between 2006 and 2018 but were denied a place due to a long-standing practice of rigging test scores to favor male candidates.

The Sept. 9 ruling by Tokyo District Court was the second time a medical college has been ordered to compensate female applicants who were discriminated against in entrance exams.

The university was also ordered to cover the cost of the entrance exams, 200,000 yen per year per person, taken by the women.

Presiding Judge Kyoko Hiraki said the practice violated the spirit of the Constitution as well as the Fundamental Law on Education ban on gender discrimination. The women were, in effect, unable to freely choose which medical school they wanted to enter, the judge ruled.

Four 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.

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

In May, the Tokyo District Court ordered Juntendo University to compensate 13 female applicants a total of 8.05 million yen. That ruling has since been finalized.

Another district court is hearing a case against St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, brought by former applicants.

One of the plaintiffs in the Tokyo Medical University lawsuit was Maya Hasegawa, 45, who failed the entrance exam in 2006, but later was accepted at a public university medical school. She now practices medicine in Tokyo.

At a news conference following the ruling, Hasegawa said she wanted the public to reflect on the fact that persistent discrimination against women is still prevalent. She explained that some patients insist on having a male doctor examine them.

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

Lawyer Yukiko Tsunoda was critical of the low amount of compensation ordered by the court.

Tsunoda explained that she 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.”

(This article was written by Kyota Tanaka and Aya Shioiri.)