Japanese academic in sex scandal

April 23, 1999

Sex, corruption and medical error are stalking Japan's universities in a flurry of adverse publicity in the past few weeks.

At the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, an unnamed associate professor of agriculture is being dismissed for sexual harassment and falsifying research data.

The harassment charges were heard by a court in March 1998 when the academic was ordered to pay his victim, a Chinese woman student, 1.7 million yen (Pounds 8,800) in compensation.

After the hearing, the agriculture faculty asked the university to dismiss the academic, but it has taken a year to do so, and is concentrating on the charges of falsifying data.

Meanwhile a district court has sentenced a former professor at Nagoya University to a suspended three-year jail sentence and fined him 256 million yen for taking bribes from three pharmaceutical companies.

The court found that Hiroyoshi Hidaka accepted employees from the three firms as "students" and then used them to channel back information on new drug research to their employers.

His pay-off was made through a specially created dummy company for which he was supposed to have acted as a "technical consultant".

The fine exactly equalled his pay-off.

But Mr Hidaka, who resigned his chair on the eve of his arrest last August, maintains that it is not fair as some of the money was paid to recognise his skill in creating new drugs.

His lawyers submitted a petition signed by 375 pharmacological researchers in Japan, including a number of Nobel laureates, asking for leniency.

The judge, though, found that Mr Hidaka had not shown true remorse and that his actions had adversely affected the development of cooperative relations between academia and industry.

Finally, a bone marrow donor at the Sinshu University Hospital developed acute hepatitis C after giving marrow, and, according to the Japan Marrow Donor Foundation, probably contracted the virus at the hospital.

It alleged that donors' own blood for re-transfusion in the event of anaemia was kept in the same refrigerator as blood broth from patients suffering from infection.

A JMDF survey found 47 out of 92 authorised marrow transplant units stored blood products in the same way.

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