Japan court finds ex-professor guilty of leaking bar exam

TOKYO, Dec 24, 2015 (AFP) - A Japanese court Thursday found a former law professor guilty of leaking highly competitive bar exam questions to one of his female students whom he was reportedly dating. Koichi Aoyagi, a former professor at Meiji University law school, was sentenced to one year in prison with the sentence suspended for five years, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo District Court.

The justice ministry in September filed a criminal complaint against the 67-year-old for allegedly leaking questions he had helped write to a female student ahead of this year’s exam. Japan’s bar exam is notoriously competitive and has an extremely low pass rate as authorities seek to strictly control the number of attorneys.

Aoyagi fed exam questions to the student, whose name has not been revealed, right up until the bar exam in May because she was distraught after failing the test last year and he wanted to help her, the Sankei Shimbun daily reported. The student scored extremely high marks but another expert found it suspicious and reported it to the justice ministry, the newspaper said.

Presiding judge Koichi Nozawa said Aoyagi "willingly committed the crime to help his student he was dating pass the exam," according to local media. But the judge concluded that Aoyagi "regrets his action and is being sanctioned socially by losing his job, although the fairness of bar exams was severely damaged," according to public broadcaster NHK.

The justice ministry said after the ruling it is "taking the matter seriously (and) will work to regain trust in bar exams" by investigating the case and discussing how to prevent a reoccurrence.

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