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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 30 - October 6  > Science Council of Japan president says Suga’s nomination refusal is ‘serious problem’
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2020 September 30 - October 6 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Science Council of Japan president says Suga’s nomination refusal is ‘serious problem’

October 2, 2020

The Science Council of Japan has made public that Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, in an unprecedented move, refused to appoint six scientists as new SCJ members in defiance of the SCJ recommendation. The council has decided to contest the decision as it is a serious problem.

The SCJ, which was established in 1949 by law as a representative body of scientists in Japan, held a general meeting in Tokyo on October 1 and elected its new leadership. On the same day, 105 new SCJ members were to be appointed by the prime minister based on the list compiled by the council, but six of them were rejected by Suga, according to the SCJ.

Former SCJ President Yamagiwa Juichi (former Kyoto University president) in his farewell speech stressed the significance of Article 7 of the SCJ Act which stipulates that members should be appointed by SCJ recommendation. He said, “PM Suga’s rejection of SCJ recommended candidates is a matter of grave concern as it is unprecedented in the SCJ history.” Yamagiwa added that he sent Suga a request for explanation but received no reply so far.

Yamagiwa stressed, “Although the SCJ has an affiliation with the Cabinet Office, it has no obligation to take orders from the government. Candidates for the SCJ membership are carefully chosen by the council based on their academic achievements. It is highly controversial for Suga to disregard the recommendations without giving any explanation.” He called on the new SCJ leadership to address the issue.

At a press conference after the general meeting, new SCJ President Kajita Takaaki, professor at the University of Tokyo and Nobel Prize winner in physics, said, “This is a very serious problem so we will take necessary actions. I think this is a matter of academic freedom and of the political neutrality of the SCJ.”

The SCJ did not disclose the names of the six persons. However, according to Akahata, most of the six are academics who are critical of policies which Suga has promoted under the Abe Cabinet as chief cabinet secretary, such as the enactment of the war laws and the anti-conspiracy law and the construction of a U.S. base in Okinawa.

Past related articles:
> SCJ adopts statement reaffirming 50-year-old military research ban [March 25, 2017]
> Science Council of Japan established based on remorse over wartime cooperation [February 22, 2017]
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