politics

Ex-head of Japan science group urges Suga to appoint rejected scholars

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By Linda Sieg and Ami Miyazaki

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[ "If they are not being appointed because they opposed the government, this could limit their activities, restrict their freedom of speech and affect academic freedom," Takashi Onishi, president of the SCJ from 2011-2017, told Reuters in an interview. ]

It is something we may all have to get used to, unfortunately.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The bloom came off the Suga rose in a matter of days, revealing that there'snothing there but thorns.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is all because Japan's academics don't want their universities used for military and weapons research. Suga continuing his precessor's chip chip chipping away at Japan's peace constitution.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Doing something that can easily be categorized as a threat to freedom of expression requires a very good explanation, "just because" doesn't cut it.

He is allowed by law to do it, but it is costing him a lot politically, that makes people suspicious about what kind of hidden deals he is having that losing so much popularity so quickly is still the better option.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This article has some information concerning the 6 rejectees:

University of Tokyo professor A (academic field: majoring in political thought history) opposed the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets enacted in 2013 and called for forming an “Association of Scholars Opposed to National Security Laws.” 

Waseda University professor B (academic field: administrative law) set up an “Association of Waseda University Volunteers Seeking to Repeal National Security Laws” and issued a statement of protest against the government’s handling of a U.S. military base construction off Camp Schwab in Okinawa. 

Jikei University professor C (academic field: constitutional law) called for scrapping national security legislation that, he said, would lead to Japan’s unlimited exercise of the right of collective self-defense. 

University of Tokyo professor D (academic field: modern Japanese history) proposed to establish a group named “Save Constitutional Democracy Japan 2014,” and raised opposition to any constitutional amendment and the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets. 

Ritsumeikan University professor E (academic field: criminal law) criticized a bill in 2017 for revising the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds as the worst postwar public order legislation. 

Kyoto University professor F (academic field: the study of Christianity) has supported the “Association of Scholars Opposed to National Security Laws” and an “Association of Kyoto University Volunteers for Freedom and Peace,” which opposed national security legislation.

https://japan-forward.com/speaking-out-the-science-council-of-japan-should-protect-academic-freedom/

While you can say that the "anti-government" positions cost them, one may also legitimately argue that these statements themselves constitute evidence that they are not as expert or well-rounded or as even-handed as one would expect academics on a top level council to be.

For example, how does Professor A deal with the reality that both spies and sensitive information are not merely hypothetical existences, and that Japanese bureaucrats had not always been the most careful with information?

How does Professor B deal with the concept that National Defense is a national responsibility, not a prefectural one and that prefectural obstructionism is hindering things? I'll also point out the Japanese government took a very restrained course with such obstructionism - they even lined up in court next to the peasants. Imagine say the PRC government dealing with supposed obstructionism in enacting Article 23 of the HK Basic Law by going through the courts to demand a remedy rather than just imposing a National Security Law.

How does Professor C deal with the reality that Japan has not exactly been making "unlimited" exercise of the right to collective self-defence? The law does not allow for it and Japan has not been pushing the limits.

While I indeed don't like some of the constitutional revision proposals myself, when he opposes any amendment how does Professor D deal with the tension between the SDF, the unrealism of disbanding it, and the Constitution?

And is National Security laws incompatible with Christianity?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

one may also legitimately argue that these statements themselves constitute evidence that they are not as expert or well-rounded or as even-handed as one would expect academics on a top level council to be.

You could argue that. But the government hasn't. It's just given a cop-out explanation (the decision was made based on a "comprehensive perspective").

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ruling party LDP politicians and far-rightist commentators are spreading disinformation from major TV channels or Internet and discredit scholars or SCJ to obscure point of contention and to evade criticism about illegality of Suga government.

Dictatorship is liable to hate intellectuals or scholars.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Uhh no hideomi kuze.

The right wing doesn't like communist and chinese sympathizers. We are quite fond of intellectuals and scholars but we don't have to agree with the ones that support communism just because they are professors.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

https://japan-forward.com/speaking-out-the-science-council-of-japan-should-protect-academic-freedom/

An ultra-nationalist, Yasukuni-licking fountain of lies and propaganda.

Dictatorship is liable to hate intellectuals or scholars.

Particularly dictatorships that want their universities used for military research, against the wishes of the staff, students and most ordinary people.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

AscissorToday 02:09 pm JST

You could argue that. But the government hasn't. It's just given a cop-out explanation (the decision was made based on a "comprehensive perspective").

I suspect that is the only realistic answer he can give. The length of the answer he can give in reply to either a reporter or a Diet member is limited, and to actually go over the "comprehensive perspective" in sufficient detail it has any hope of persuading a critic will be too long for the time he has.

Hideomi KuzeToday 02:28 pm JST

evade criticism about illegality of Suga government.

OK, we have to get one thing out of the way. People might not like it but it is not an illegality. The black letter law is as follows:

第七条 日本学術会議は、二百十人の日本学術会議会員(以下「会員」という。)をもつて、これを組織する。

2 会員は、第十七条の規定による推薦に基づいて、内閣総理大臣が任命する。

So, the Prime Minister appoints based on the recommendation made in accordance with Article 17. This phrasing leaves open the question as to whether the appointment is a substantive right, a procedural right or mere symbolism. It certainly does imply that the failure to appoint the nominee is unexpected, but it hardly forbids the move.

As for the 1983 answer it says: 

実質的に首相の任命で会員の任命を左右することは考えていない

The government is not thinking that the Prime Minister's appointment will affect the appointment of members in practice.

It does not say it "can't" think it. It just says it is not thinking of it, perhaps hopefully it will never be necessary.

In short, neither the black letter law nor the interpretation insist the prime minister must eat the nomination no matter what. Nor is it necessarily an abuse of authority because as explained above the statements may exceed more political speech but reveals a lack of the qualities that would be expected of a council member - in other words, the nominators F-ed up.

By the way, this formulation is similar to certain formulations in the HK Basic Law. I suppose it is not shocking for you to learn that Beijing has taken the substantive right interpretation. My distaste aside I have to concede it is at least arguable, and thus similarly will have to say the same for this.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Why were they rejected, pls explain to the Japanese public

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I suspect that is the only realistic answer he can give. The length of the answer he can give in reply to either a reporter or a Diet member is limited, and to actually go over the "comprehensive perspective" in sufficient detail it has any hope of persuading a critic will be too long for the time he has.

There are multiple mechanisms to give a proper reply, it doesn't need to be oral nor to be said during a press conference.

A proper decision must be well justified, and that justification can be put in written without any problem and released as an explanation. Why would them not be qualified "experts"? what part of their work is not up to the standards of the Science Council? what are the fundaments of the criticism? how are the counter arguments being handled? How come that the council do consider them worth being postulated as members?

Suga don't have to do it, but putting a well constructed analysis of his decision should be the minimum that should be done. For all we know he doesn't have any other reason but them being against what he wants to do, which is a terribly bad reason, because that is part of what the council is supposed to do. That is the role that they are supposed to be assuming.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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