Urgent statement on the government’s refusal to appoint the six nominees to the Science Council of Japan
At the beginning of the 25th term of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) on October 1, SUGA Yoshihide, Prime Minister of Japan, refused to appoint 6 of the 105 nominees whom SCJ had formally recommended. This is an unprecedented situation under the current system, in which the members are appointed by the Prime Minister based on SCJ's recommendations. We express our protest against the government’s rejection.
The government's recent intervention is in conflict with the purpose of the SCJ Law which guarantees the independence of the work carried out by SCJ. It also represents a clear infringement of academic freedom; it could lead to the repression of autonomous research activities and may even threaten freedom of expression, thought, and belief, which are the core principles of a democratic society. Our own history during World War II, when the government infringed upon academic freedom, warns us that this could set a grave precedent for the future.
We therefore request the government to approve the original nominations immediately and provide a full explanation of the process by which their appointments were rejected. This will benefit the general public in removing concerns over the possible government interventions in future SCJ appointments.
Finally, we call for broad solidarity, beyond differences in position and discipline, to address this issue.
October 3, 2020
Committee of the Historical Science Society of Japan
(English translation on November 15, 2020)