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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 October 7 - 13  > Nobel laureate: PM's ouster of specific scholars from SCJ is harmful
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2020 October 7 - 13 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Nobel laureate: PM's ouster of specific scholars from SCJ is harmful

October 11, 2020

Nobel Prize winner in medicine Honjo Tasuku, distinguished professor at Kyoto University, on October 9 criticized Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide for refusing to approve six professors to membership in the Science Council of Japan (SCJ).

In an interview on the TBS news show "News 23" aired in the evening of the same day, Honjo, who was also a SCJ member, said that the rejection by PM Suga to appoint the six SCJ-recommended scientists as new SCJ members "sets an extremely harmful precedent".

PM Suga repeatedly uses the words "comprehensive" and "panoramic", but has never explained why he refused membership to the six professors. Honjo pointed out, "I suspect that the proposed appointments are inconvenient. This is why PM Suga cannot make clear the reasons." Honjo said, "It will be extremely dangerous if a decision like this is allowed without disclosing any reasons. Selecting scholars based on someone's likes and dislikes is a violation of academic freedom."

Honjo said, "I think the government does not have the criteria needed to determine who are good or bad scholars. Ways of thinking vary depending on the individual scholar, and more diverse the ideas the better. The very meaning of 'comprehensive' and 'panoramic' in this context is 'many diverse people'. I believe that an environment where researchers can think freely and transmit their thoughts freely will most effectively lead to the happiness of the people. Putting pressure on others to conform with a rigid way of thinking will end up causing a heavy loss to academic freedom."

Honjo continued to say, "The government takes on the actual administration. It ponders how to accommodate scientists' opinions or discusses how to put scientific perspectives into administrative practices. This point is important. So, policymaking with no scientific evidence is very problematic."

Past related articles:
> Opposition parties interview scholars rejected by PM Suga to be SCJ members [October 6, 2020]
> Scientists in Japan resolved to never again engage in research for war purposes [October 3, 2020]
> Science Council of Japan president says Suga’s nomination refusal is ‘serious problem’ [October 2, 2020]
> Shii condemns gov't intervention in Science Council as threat to academic freedom [October 2, 2020]
> PM Suga excludes scientists critical of war laws from Japan Science Council [ October 1, 2020]
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