The display on the Apple Watch, embedded in a large eraser, shows the numbers to be filled in on the mark sheet – the “answer”. With the push of a button, the screen quickly transformed into an image that assimilated with the eraser’s design, making the display almost invisible.
This is a “cheat support video” sent to us by a Chinese vendor.
Within the community of people living in Japan that exists on the Chinese chat application “WeChat,” since around May of this year, posts with the phrase “Bao Man Fen” (meaning “full score guaranteed”) have been appearing in abundance. The word “JLPT” is invariably accompanied by the word “JLPT. This is the abbreviation for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, which was most recently administered on July 2. When the author, posing as a test taker, sent a message to one of the posts, he received the following reply.
On the day of the test, all correct answers to all questions will be sent via SMS during the test. The fee is 300,000 yen; 150,000 yen must be paid by three days before the test date and the rest within three days after the test.
The video at the beginning of this article shows how to receive the answers. Isn’t this a new kind of scam? I thought so at the time.
However, on the day of the test, during the time for the N1 reading comprehension question, the highest level of the JLPT, several numbers were shared in the WeChat community that were believed to be the correct answers to all of the questions. Among them, there was indeed one posted by a vendor with whom the author had corresponded. Is this a vendor demonstrating his/her competence in order to attract customers?
This is not a “trivial matter in a private test. The problem of cheating in the JLPT is not a matter of trivial concern to us Japanese, since passing the N1 test is eligible for points under the “Highly Qualified Personnel Point System.
Foreigners who score over 70 points are granted a five-year status of residence as a high-level human resource, which allows their spouses to work, and after three years they can apply for a permanent residence permit, among other preferential treatment.
Under the advanced human resources point system, 15 points are awarded to those who pass N1.
The “Fraud-all-you-can” monitoring system
For example, suppose there is a 34-year-old foreigner (10 points) who, after graduating from college in his home country (10 points) and working as a self-employed person for 10 years (25 points), established a company in Japan with a capital of at least 5 million yen and became its representative director (10 points). According to the point system, his score would be 55 points and he would not be considered an advanced human resource. However, if he passed the N1 exam, 15 points would be added to his score, and he would receive the various preferential treatment mentioned above as a highly skilled personnel. If the price for these 15 points is 300,000 yen, it may be a small price to pay for some people.
The measures taken on the day of the exam were also lousy. A Chinese woman who took the N1 exam at the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo revealed, “Until the exam was over, I was not allowed to inspect my belongings.
There was no inspection of personal belongings until after the exam. I was told to turn off my smart phone and smart watch and put them in my bag, but it was up to me whether I actually did so or not. There were about 50 candidates in the classroom where I took the test, but there were three examiners. That was less than half the number of examiners in China’s Kao Kao (unified university entrance examination).”
On a Chinese social networking site, several posters uploaded photos of examiners trying to distribute question papers, captured with smartphones and other devices. It would be a piece of cake to bring in an Apple watch tucked into an eraser.
Are the test administrators aware of this situation? We asked the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services Foundation, which administers the JLPT in Japan, but a spokesperson for the foundation replied, “We cannot answer any questions about this.
The penalties for cheating are also inadequate, according to lawyer Hirotaro Kato.
If it is determined that cheating was done for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining a status of residence, the examinee and the vendor may be charged with the “crime of fraudulent acquisition of status of residence” and the “crime of facilitating fraudulent acquisition of status of residence for profit-making purposes” under the Immigration Control Act. In reality, however, the crime of obstruction of business by deceptive means, which carries a penalty of up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 500,000 yen, is applied, and judicial precedents often result in summary prosecution or a stay of execution,” said Kato.
Currently, there are 15,735 high-level foreign human resources in Japan, 65% of whom are Chinese. Are the high-level human resources that Japan accepts the real thing? A proper screening process is desirable.
From the August 4, 2023 issue of FRIDAY
Reporting and writing： Yuuki Okukubo (Journalist)