On the face of it, Tokyo Medical University’s scandal about discrimination against female candidates would seem to simply be a shocking case of bias against women in a country not known for equality of opportunity.

As the school has admitted, women applicants’ entry exam scores were uniformly reduced to allow more male students to be admitted to a highly sought-after course.

But the truth is more complicated. While Japanese women certainly face discrimination in the medical profession, the heart of this scandal lies not in gender bias but in the woeful underfunding of Japanese health care.

The overwhelmingly male medical establishment favored male candidates over female because it saw many female health care professionals leaving their jobs, usually…

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