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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 October 25 - 31  > Gov’t seeks to infiltrate decision-making bodies in national universities
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2023 October 25 - 31 [POLITICS]

Gov’t seeks to infiltrate decision-making bodies in national universities

October 25, 2023
The Kishida government intends to submit to the current Diet session a bill which will allow the government to directly select members of the highest decision-making bodies in national universities in order for the government to control universities with the use of a small number of government-backed board members.

The bill would oblige national universities of a certain size to set up a new panel whose members’ selection must be approved by the education minister. It will be “adequate” if outside-university persons account for more than half of the panel members, according to the bill. As the de facto highest decision-making body, the panel would assume powerful authority in allocating the university budget and selecting a university president.

Currently, the university’s Education and Research Council consisting of delegates from each faculty discusses issues pertaining to education and studies within the university, and the president and board members make the final decisions based on the discussion in the council. The government does not, at present, have any role in appointing the board members.

Many from the government and within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, such as former LDP Secretary-General Amari Akira, repeatedly criticize the Science Council of Japan and some national universities for taking a negative stance regarding involvement in military research. If new panels gain control over university management and operations, national universities may become like subcontractors of large corporations as sought by business circles and may promote military research at a rapid rate.

To protect academic freedom from political power, autonomy must be guaranteed for universities to independently decide on the university’s education and research contents.
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