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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 30 - October 6  > Shii condemns gov't intervention in Science Council as threat to academic freedom
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2020 September 30 - October 6 [POLITICS]

Shii condemns gov't intervention in Science Council as threat to academic freedom

October 2, 2020
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on October 1 said that it is "a serious threat to academic freedom" for Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide to have refused to assign six scientists to positions at the Science Council of Japan in disregard of a recommendation from the SCJ itself to put their names on its roster of members.

At a news conference held in the Diet building on the day, Shii referred to a statement released by three of the six in protest against PM Suga's decision in which they claim, "This will lead to a denial of the SCJ raison d'etre," and expressed his determination to make full efforts together with other opposition parties to demand that PM Suga reverse his refusal to approve the SCJ membership of the six.

Founded in 1949, the SCJ conducts its duties independently from state authorities based on Article 3 of the SCJ Act. At its inauguration ceremony, the then Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru in a congratulatory speech made clear, "The SCJ is a national government organ but is vested with a high degree of independence so that it can accomplish its mission without giving in to political pressures." Also, when discussing revisions to the law in 1983, the director general of the Prime Minister's Office at that time stated in the Diet, "The government will not refuse anyone the SCJ recommends for membership."

Shii said, "In the context of these pronouncements, Suga's refusal is violating the SCJ Act and is an act of threatening 'academic freedom' guaranteed under Article 23 of the Constitution." He demanded again that the decision to not appoint the six to the SCJ be immediately withdrawn."

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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