Big in Japan: Cheating your way into university

Over the next few weeks, high school students across America are making one of the biggest decisions of their young adult lives, namely where to attend university. In Japan, the situation is no different, though this year the annual ritual has been marred by the country’s largest ever cheating scandal.

For anyone out there in high school – or anyone with less than fond memories of being in high school – the SATs can be a painful rite of passage into semi-adulthood. The Japanese version is colloquially referred to as ‘exam war,’ and necessitates sitting for grueling entrance exams at multiple universities.

With the Japanese economy in the doldrums, and the pressure to succeed higher than ever, there is certainly temptation for youngsters to cheat. This week, the prestigious Kyoto University is embroiled in a battle with a prospective student, who is accused of sending and receiving messages from an online forum during an exam.

The Japanese media is having a field day, and the stress-stricken 19-yo from northern Japan is now a national pariah.Cheating on an exam is certainly nothing new, and there have been many ingenuous methods perpetrated over the years by crafty if ill-prepared test takers. But what distinguishes this scandal from others is the use of mobile phones and internet forums in a failed attempt to game the system.

According to reports

– and a few dodgy *dramatic re-enactments* that have been appearing on Japanese television – the student hid the phone between his thighs while texting with his left hand. Exam questions were sent to an online forum where possible accomplices were waiting to text back the answers.

What surprised many was the speed and deft at which the student was able to text. In true Japanese fashion, this subsequently prompted a few television shows dedicated to scouring the streets of Tokyo for the fastest texters amongst us!

Back to the story: the student was caught after Kyoto University received an anonymous tipoff. Police traced the posts from the website through the mobile phone provider

and back to the offending student’s mother.

Kyoto University officials and police were less than lenient. Rather than simply disqualifying the student’s test results, he was subsequently held under the charge of obstructing university business by fraudulent means.

It remains to be seen what will happen next to the offender, and it’s likely that Japanese universities will need to rethink their entrance exam policies.

Moral of the story (in English and in Japanese): Winners never cheat, and cheaters never win. ずるをする人は決して勝つことがなく、勝者は決してずるをしません。

** All images are courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons Project **