Education and Employment in Japan: The Medical Schools Case

Do you choose a profession or are you being chosen for it?

The shot of the Tokyo Medical University with the university's name written at the top of it
The shot of the Tokyo Medical University with the university's name written at the top of it

Japan has always been the land of the controversies in many regards. These days are not the exception – there’s an ongoing debate about a discrimination scandal in the land of the Rising Sun that highlighted the split in opinions of the Japanese people. It happened after a government survey which made it more than obvious that med schools are rather willing to enroll men than women.

Since we live in the age where gender equality is one of the key societal issues, the findings of the survey have shocked the Japanese public. The direct result of such circumstances was the further government investigation on the matter. The aim is to find out among other things why Japanese medical schools are so keen on admitting men at such high rates while women still don’t get recognized as equally able candidates.

The situation was uncovered after the Tokyo Medical University was caught routinely altering the scores of female applicants in the favor of men. Keeping the female students number much lower compared to male in the student body is considered to be the unprecedented situation, and the Government of Japan deemed it worthy of further investigation.

After gathering and analyzing all the preliminary data from the survey done by the Japanese Ministry of Education, it has been confirmed that there were indeed cases of gender discrimination across all of the 81 medical schools. According to the ministry’s survey, the cases of admitting men at much higher rates than women were persistent in the period of at least last six years.

The Government Calls for Corrective Measures

The Government Calls for Corrective Measures

Since gender discrimination is simply outrageous in Japan, the Japanese government made a statement clearly calling for corrective measures that will set this injustice straight. However, it stated that the Tokyo Medical University case is an isolated incident and measures will be taken to prevent such discrimination from happening ever again.

In terms of percentage, only 9.55 percent of female applicants were admitted compared to 11.25 percent of men. Several Japanese med schools refused to comment on the given matter when they were contacted by media and press to make a statement about this issue and their involvement in the government survey. However, they did deny any involvement regarding systematic attempts of gender discrimination revolving around their female applicants.

Numerous discussions across the entire country brought the national dignity and identity into question.

Further Investigation is Imminent

The Jiji press agency got the initial information from a person directly in charge of entrance exams. It showed that the general success of female applicants was generally higher across the university entrance exam boards. This board includes departments ranging from the humanities to science.

With all this in mind, the Japanese Ministry of Education issued a statement, saying that they’re ready to investigate the matter further in order to check the way the entrance exams were conducted as well as to visits all the examination sites.

Therefore, the ministry stated that according to their plan, they will issue their final report somewhere in October. It turns out that so far it was specifically Tokyo Medical University that decided to routinely lower the female applicants’ scores because the admission board honestly believed that males would simply do better when it comes to medical duties.

They acknowledged this somewhere during August and justified their decision by generally considering that females could quit their jobs due to marriage and childbirth. In terms of commitment, they deemed male applicants to be better candidates for the medical needs of Japan as the country’s medical infrastructure requires dedicated and devoted young people.

To them, it was logical that male students would seem like the best choice simply because they would be more able to deal with the long shifts and working hours, which is the main requirement for any doctor. They also pinpointed that females are generally getting pregnant at some point in their life which would prevent them from working effectively and efficiently in the time of need. In their eyes, male applicants were a better choice simply because of this.

The Issue of Gender Discrimination Predates from 2006

The Issue of Gender Discrimination

Further investigation showed that these alterations predate from 2006 when the main goal was to keep a low women ratio in all medical schools. The aimed ratio was at 30 percent or even lower, depending on the region. The Tokyo Medical University’s confession on the matter of gender discrimination caused and prompted an outrage on both international and local scene.

Numerous discussions across the entire country brought the national dignity and identity into question. The Japanese public was shocked and appalled by the fact that gender discrimination is indeed very real and is entrenched in every segment of the Japanese working world.

Since 2006, Japanese business sphere is making constant efforts to rectify such situations, trying to improve the position of women in the business world.

Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, has made an official statement regarding women’s participation in the Japanese workplaces. He said that the only way Japan can fix this gender discrimination in the business world is by significantly boosting and improving women’s workplace participation.

Furthermore, he also said that females can indeed contribute to the business world of Japan by being promoted to higher and senior positions. He even suggested that this issue should be considered a number one priority and a permanent solution towards resolving the gender discrimination issue with success.

Despite all that, the pace of resolving the issue has been quite slow and the isolated cases of gender discrimination still remain. The public isn’t quite happy with the progress even though the Government keeps on working on the situation. How long will it take until women will get equal representation and participation in the working world of Japan is a question that is yet to be answered.

Still, Japan is the land of development and progress, so, hopefully, they will come up with a positive solution soon.

Today’s “otsumami” – a bite size snack:

The employment equality starts with the equality of education possibilities. 

What do you think?

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