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Student turns herself in for alleged leak of Japan university entrance exam question

A female student who is believed to have leaked a unified university entrance exam question via a video calling app during the test has turned herself in to police, investigative sources said Thursday.

The student, 19, turned herself in to police in Kagawa Prefecture, saying she was involved in the leak.

The incident came to light on Wednesday after a man who identified himself as a University of Tokyo student notified exam authorities that he had received a photo of a question on a world history test via Skype while the examination took place Jan. 15, the sources said.

Police are investigating the incident as a case of suspected cheating.

According to the man, he was asked to “try to solve” the problem by a person he got acquainted with through a tutoring service website, the sources said. He received the image several times and sent back an answer, they said. Police believe it was the 19-year-old student who sent him the pictures.

The website operator said the alleged leaker registered with the tutoring service as a second-year high school student in December, asking university students to send contact information and requesting trial lessons.

The man later found out that the question was actually used on the exam and reported the incident to the authorities, the sources said. The National Center for University Entrance Examinations and the education ministry are also examining the incident.

“There is a possibility that cheating occurred on the world history test but we cannot give details as we are currently confirming the facts,” a center official said.

Students take a unified university entrance exam at a University of Tokyo campus in Tokyo on Jan. 15. | KYODO
Students take a unified university entrance exam at a University of Tokyo campus in Tokyo on Jan. 15. | KYODO

The man later got a text message from the suspect asking to also answer literature questions, although he did not actually receive any questions, according to the sources.

It was also discovered that the suspect contacted at least three other university students, seeking “perfect answers” for exam questions, although the three students declined the request, the sources said.

According to the center, examinees are told to leave their smartphones and digital devices in their bags during testing.

Following the exam, there were some online posts pointing to the leak of a question.

The unified university entrance exams were held on Jan. 15 and 16, with the testing of geography, history and civics, including the world history exam, conducted from 9:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. on the first day.

A total of 417,259 people took the geography, history and civics test, accounting for 78.7% of the exam applicants.

Following the incident, the center sent out letters to universities across the nation asking them to beef up surveillance measures over the use of electronic devices at testing venues where additional exams will be given on Saturday and Sunday.

A total of 1,658 people are eligible for the additional test, including 463 people who could not take the exam because they had COVID-19 infections or were close contacts of coronavirus patients.

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