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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 November 4 - 10  > Shii in weekly magazine interview talks about Suga’s rejection of 6 SCJ nominees
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2020 November 4 - 10 [POLITICS]

Shii in weekly magazine interview talks about Suga’s rejection of 6 SCJ nominees

November 4, 2020

The latest issue of a major weekly magazine “Sunday Mainichi” carried an interview article in which Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo talked about Prime Minister Suga’s rejection of six Science Council of Japan nominees as an issue representing the Suga administration’s true nature. He spoke about this topic from various angles, utilizing constitutional references and the SCJ’s historical background.

The article began with the explanation by an interviewer and Mainichi Shimbun senior writer Kurashige Atsuro why he selected Shii to interview on this matter. He said that Suga’s rejection was made public through Akahata’s scoop and added that Shii heads the JCP which experienced the government’s relentless suppression on ideology during the pre-war and wartime period.

Shii first talked about the legal aspects of this issue. He pointed out that the SCJ Act is designed to ensure the organization’s independence from the government through several provisions. Regarding PM Suga’s argument that as the prime minister, he has appointment power, Shii referred to successive governments’ statement in the Diet that as stipulated in the SCJ Act, the prime minister will automatically approve SCJ’s nominees to its membership. He said that the Suga administration’s act of unilaterally overturning this statement which was formalized by the legislative branch is tantamount to disregarding the Diet.

Asked about the relationship between PM Suga’s act and the Constitution, Shii said that the SCJ’s independence is guaranteed based on academic freedom stipulated in Article 23 of the Constitution. He went on to say, “To guarantee academic freedom means protecting independence in academia, which is vital in pursuing truth, from unjust political control and pressure.” He then stressed that academic freedom should be ensured not only for individual scientists but also for autonomous organizations of scientists, such as universities and scientists’ societies. He added that the denial of the SCJ’s independence is an example of the destruction of academic freedom.

Kurashige pointed out that Article 23 is unique to Japan. In response, Shii said that the post-war Constitution has this article based on the historical fact that the pre-war government moved forward with its war of aggression by suppressing academic studies which the government regarded as inconvenient. He continued, “I was surprised when I found out that the SCJ’s predecessor organization was entirely mobilized to support the war after the introduction of a system under which organization’s members were all selected by the government.”

Shii said that by learning the lessons from this past, the SCJ was founded after the war as an organization functioning independent of the government. He criticized PM Suga’s refusal to accept the SCJ’s recommendation of new members for trampling on the very foundation of the SCJ.

Past related articles:
> What does wartime ‘Emperor organ theory incident’ teach us today? [October 30,2020]
> PM Suga fails to clearly respond to Diet questioning by JCP Shii [October 30, 2020]
> PM Suga creates straw man to dodge accountability for his rejection of SCJ nominees [October 28, 2020]
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