Suga says politics wasn't behind blocking nominees, but won't say why
Japan Times -- Oct 06
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday fought back against speculation that the rejection of six scholars to the Science Council of Japan is attributed to their criticism of national security legislation approved under then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“(The appointment) has nothing to do with academic freedom. Isn’t that obvious no matter how you look at it?” the prime minister said in an interview with news organizations at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Suga’s remark Monday night was the first time he officially addressed the issue at length. The story was first reported by Japan Communist Party’s bulletin Akahata last Thursday. He only said the decision is consistent with the law Friday evening when asked by a reporter about it.

Prime ministers have been approving Science Council of Japan members as recommended by the organization, which falls under the jurisdiction of the nation’s top leader but runs independently from the government. The method, based on the law governing the organization, has been adopted in 2004. The council makes policy proposals and is known as a prominent representative organization for Japanese scientists. Its total member count is 210 and half are shuffled out every three years.

But breaking away from precedent, Suga did not name six of the 105 people recommended, raising concerns among academics and the public that the administration is attempting to flex its muscle to weed out scholars who are against the government’s policies. The six scholars have decried contentious anti-conspiracy and national security legislation, which passed the Diet while Abe was prime minister.

News source: Japan Times
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