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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 October 28 - November 3  > PM Suga creates straw man to dodge accountability for his rejection of SCJ nominees
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2020 October 28 - November 3 [POLITICS]

PM Suga creates straw man to dodge accountability for his rejection of SCJ nominees

October 28, 2020
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide in his policy speech delivered to the Diet on October 26 remained silent about his rejection of six Science Council of Japan nominees but gave an eloquent speech on an evening news program aired on the same day.

On the NHK program, PM Suga shifted the focus of the issue to diversity in SCJ members by saying that the Council "has extremely few young scholars" and that "there are too many scholars only from specific universities".

SCJ President Kajita Takaaki met with PM Suga on October 16 and later sent all SCJ members an email to report on the meeting. Kajita in the report said that he had explained to Suga that "only because of the present selection method of nominees could the Council lift the rate of female members to 35% and the rate of researchers from outside the Tokyo metropolitan area to 50%, and that "gender and regional balance is taken into account in the SCJ member composition and therefore diverse views can be ensured".

During the program, PM Suga repeatedly said, "The Council is a government organization with a budget of one billion yen a year," and "SCJ members are government employees". For these reasons, he added, "It is necessary to re-examine the overall SCJ structure."

However, the budget for the academic authority in Japan is very small compared to international standards. Members receive just a little more than 200,000 yen a year in allowances. Some members even return their allowances to the state coffer.

Under Article 17 of the SCJ Act, SCJ members should be recommended from "scientists with excellent research or achievements". A 2018 document of the Cabinet Office also states that only the SCJ can appropriately judge the credentials of members.

Nevertheless, PM Suga by his own standard refused to appoint the six professors to the SCJ, which is a breach of the rule of law. He in the first place said he had not looked at the list of recommendations. The more he talked about it, the more incoherent he becomes.

His act itself is threatening the independence of the SCJ which is stipulated in Article 3 of the SCJ Act. What the general public is calling for is a detailed explanation for Suga's rejection of the six nominees. He should fulfill his accountability in the Diet.

Past related articles:
> Suga in policy speech exposes fact that he has no clear strategy to address pressing issues [October 27, 2020]
> At FCCJ, 6 professors rejected by PM Suga for membership to SCJ speak of unconstitutionality of PM's act [October 24, 2020]
> PM Suga’s refusal of SCJ nominees recalls imperial government suppression of academic freedom [October 23, 2020]
> PM Suga edits out his accounts placing importance on government recordkeeping in revised edition of his book [October 21, 2020]
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