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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 30 - October 6  > Opposition parties interview scholars rejected by PM Suga to be SCJ members
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2020 September 30 - October 6 [POLITICS]

Opposition parties interview scholars rejected by PM Suga to be SCJ members

October 6, 2020
Three of the six scholars whose nomination for Science Council of Japan membership were rejected by Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide demanded on October 5 that the Diet condemn unjustness and illegality of the rejection and uncover the reason behind it.

They made this demand in their interview with opposition parties including the Japanese Communist Party on the day.

The three scholars are: Professor at Ritsumeikan University Matsumiya Takaaki, Professor at the Jikei University of Medicine Ozawa Ryuichi, and Waseda University Professor Okada Masaaki.

An interview with Professor Matsumiya took place in Kyoto where Ritsumeikan University is located. In the interview, Matsumiya pointed out that PM Suga’s unilateral refusal to accept the SCJ’s selection of members undermines the independence of the organization. The professor went on to point out, “The blatant infringement of academic freedom in this way can have a serious negative impact on society.” He expressed his concern that the Suga administration has no understanding of the academic community, and demanded that the opposition forces conduct Diet discussions regarding the importance of independent academic organizations in other countries as well as in Japan.

In an interview held in Tokyo, Professor Ozawa referred to a remark made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu that PM Suga decided to turn down the SCJ’s recommendation utilizing “a wide range of perspectives”. Ozawa said, “I hope that opposition parties’ Diet efforts will clarify what ‘perspective’ PM Suga has.”

In an opposition party interview which was held in Kawasaki City, Professor Okada problematized PM Suga’s refusal without his offering a convincing explanation. Okada said, “Unexplained rejection can have chilling effects on research activities because researchers could develop an overwhelming fear bordering on paranoia that their behavior may lead to cuts in state subsidies or other negative consequences.”

Furthermore, Okada sounded an alarm bell by saying that it is highly likely that some academics will refrain from becoming opposition parties’ unsworn witnesses regarding government policies and others will avoid expressing their opinions critical of government policies in the media.”
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