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Governor calls Japan PM's refusal to appoint scholars to science body a 'disgrace'

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu speaks during a news conference at the prefectural government headquarters in the city of Shizuoka, on Oct. 7, 2020. (Mainichi/Hideyuki Yamada)

SHIZUOKA -- The governor of the central Japan prefecture of Shizuoka slammed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his government over the decision to not appoint six researchers to the Science Council of Japan, saying that the refusal was a "disgrace" to what he called the "academic-oriented nation."

    Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu, former professor at Waseda University based in Tokyo who also served as president of Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, on Oct. 7 criticized the recent revelation that Suga had refused to appoint certain scholars to the science council, Japan's scientist community representative organization that provides policy suggestions while maintaining independence from the government.

    Asked about his opinion on the issue during a regular news conference on Oct. 7, Gov. Kawakatsu said he was "worried that it was an act of disgrace to the academic-oriented nation. The stigma should be wiped clear quick."

    On Prime Minister Suga, the governor told reporters, "It showed the level of his education. He has done something ridiculous. He says his actions were not inconsistent because he has the appointing power, but he's explained almost nothing of the matter. The prime minister's appointing power does not serve as an excuse."

    Kawakatsu also raised questions over the central government's failure to explain the reasons why the six did not get appointed, stating, "If research activities done by the six people who had been rejected were not sufficient, it might make sense (to reject them), but if the decision was wrong it has to be corrected." He added, "Academic freedom is a very basic foundation. You can't be like 'so what?' (about it). If they had concrete reasons (to reject the six people) they should come clean about them, and if they can't clarify the reasons they should reflect on their actions."

    (Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)

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