Government representatives from Akita, Okazaki and Sapporo will meet with Education Minister Makiko Tanaka on Wednesday to try and persuade her to reverse her decision not to grant permission for three new universities.
Tanaka stunned education circles last Friday when she announced that she would not grant approval for an arts college in Akita, a medical university in Sapporo and a women's university in Okazaki (Aichi Prefecture), even though the three proposed new institutions had already met the criteria for establishment put forward 18 months ago by an advisory body to the education ministry.
Tanaka has since been harshly criticized by officials in the three prefectures. On Tuesday, Aichi Gov Hideaki Omura criticized the ministry and described the refusals as an oversight, Sankei Shimbun reported. Omura will be part of the group meeting Tanaka on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Sapporo City said it is considering legal measures if Tanaka refuses to reverse her stance.
Tanaka said she made the decision because there are more than 800 universities in Japan already, which she suggested was having a negative impact on the quality of education, Jiji Press reported. Tanaka said she intends to tighten the procedures for approving the establishment of new universities, and set up a new screening body, which currently consists mainly of university-related members.
Tanaka has a history of clashing with both bureaucrats and ministers. She was previously fired from the cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and expelled from the Liberal Democratic Party in 2002. She later resigned from the Diet the same year following allegations of misuse of funds. She joined the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in 2009 and was made minister for education on Oct 1 this year.© Japan Today