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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 February 28 - March 6  > Osaka governor and Osaka mayor push ahead with questionable merger of local public universities
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2018 February 28 - March 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Osaka governor and Osaka mayor push ahead with questionable merger of local public universities

March 1, 2018
The Osaka governor and the Osaka city mayor, both of whom are executives of the local political party “Osaka Ishin no Kai”, are pushing forward with the plan for the merger of the prefectural and city universities as part of their austerity measures. Staff of the universities and concerned citizens are criticizing the merger as unreasonable and demanding its cancellation.

The Osaka Ishin party promotes the unification plan, saying that it is more than necessary for the prefecture and city to each have a university. The party is headed by Osaka Governor Matsui Ichiro and Osaka City Mayor Yoshimura Hirofumi is the chief of the party’s policy affairs research council.

With Osaka Ishin controlling the prefectural and city assemblies, the two assemblies in November 2017 and February 2018, respectively, passed a bill to merge the administration of the two universities. The Japanese Communist Party in both assemblies voted against the bill. The governor and the mayor are now seeking to have the merged university commence unified operations in 2022.

In the first place, the merger is not something the universities requested. It is part of Osaka Ishin’s plan to dissolve Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, and another major city of Sakai to create an Osaka Metropolis. This scheme was rejected in the city referendum in May 2015, but Osaka Ishin is still sticking with the single university plan.

Workers of the two universities are protesting against the merger on the grounds that it tramples on the principles of university autonomy and academic freedom which the Constitution guarantees.

A group that the two universities’ graduates formed to oppose the merger plan published a statement in December 2017. It states, “Osaka Prefectural University and Osaka City University are both rich in history and tradition and with time-tested reputations. They are Osaka residents’ precious assets.” The group demands the withdrawal of the plan.

The prefecture university staff union and other organizations last fall also published a statement. It points out, “Under the Osaka governments’ initiative, proposals and plans for a new university were drawn up. But they are far from being organized and the future prospects of the two universities have yet to be sufficiently discussed within or between the two institutions.”

JCP member of the Osaka City Assembly Ogawa Yota in a plenary meeting of the assembly in February opposed the merger plan that disregards the opinions of teaching staff, students, and graduates. He said that it is important to allow both universities to maintain their autonomy.

Past related article:
> Osaka mayor’s plan to divide up city rejected in referendum [May 19, 2015]
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