Japan rattled by exam cheat

2011-03-04 17:32
Tokyo - Japan is engaging in soul-searching after police arrested a 19-year-old accused of cheating on a prestigious university's entrance examination by using his mobile phone to post questions on a popular online forum and get outside help.

The brazen nature of the alleged offense and its use of new technology has shocked many in Japan, which takes pride in its culture prizing honesty and hard work.

It also raised questions over whether the country's top universities - the gateway to top jobs in Japan's corporate culture - have adapted to the internet's new opportunities for cheating.

The arrest of the student taking the Kyoto University exam was the top story in major newspapers on Friday and on TV news shows. Japanese media say he could become the first person to be prosecuted in the country for cheating.

"It's not a mere cheating case," an editorial in the nationwide Mainichi newspaper said. "The impact of the wrongful use of internet capable of massively spreading information instantly."

Police said they arrested the student on Thursday on suspicion that he obstructed business through fraudulence. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison or a fine of $6 000.

His name has been withheld because he is a minor under Japanese law, and he hasn't been officially charged.

The suspect admitted to the wrongdoing, and will be sent to prosecutors on Saturday, according to a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules.

Enormous pressure

Police also suspect that he also used similar cheating tactics at three other top universities - Doshisha, Waseda and Rikkyo.

Admission to Japan's top universities, seen as a requirement to a good job in government or business, is determined by applicants' performance on gruelling entrance examinations, and young people face enormous pressure preparing for them.

Many high school graduates who fail to get into their school of choice cram full-time for a full year for another shot.

The suspect is accused of turning to a popular question-and-answer site run by Yahoo Japan for help during a test. His alleged postings from February 25-26, the exam days at Kyoto University, are still viewable online.

In one, he asks for help translating a Japanese passage into English and ends with an apology for posting such a long question. Various answers were then posted throughout the day. Other postings ask for help with math problems.

The case has some wondering whether the nation's venerable colleges are keeping up with modern technology. At Kyoto University, test takers must switch off their mobile phones and keep them in their bags.

New measures planned

But many students take the test at the same time, and modern phones can quickly scan in long chunks of Japanese text through their cameras.

"Entrance exams should be strictly impartial, and that such an incident could have occurred has spread alarm to the applicants as well as society, and is highly regrettable," wrote Kyoto University President Hiroshi Matsumoto in a message posted online.

He said that the school planned to implement new measures to insure a fair testing process during the ongoing tests, the results of which are to be announced next week.

"Supervision is very important. Universities have always been aware of this, but especially because this case occurred, they should proceed properly," said Yoshiaki Takaki, head of the education ministry, told reporters on Friday.

Read more on:    japan

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Meet instagram star, Pumpkin the racoon

With 300 000 followers and growing Pumpkin is winning over the internet!



The cats that cost R35 000
Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy
13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Plant some seeds. Your innovative mind is on fire and your ingenious ideas may just be the seeds for future projects. You may meet...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.