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Ex-Japan PM Suga's preelection high school lecture canceled after protests

Yoshihide Suga (Mainichi)

YOKOHAMA -- Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's lecture scheduled for June 13 at a high school here has been canceled following protests, the Kanagawa Prefectural Board of Education announced on June 8.

    Suga is a member of the House of Representatives and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and was elected from the Kanagawa No. 2 constituency. After the lecture was announced in May, the school and the prefectural education board were flooded with more than 130 phone calls protesting that the lecture could affect voting behavior in the summer House of Councillors election. The education board cited Suga's schedule as the reason for the cancellation.

    According to the education board, the lecture was planned by the prefectural Seya-Nishi High School in Yokohama, which will merge with another school next spring, as a commemorative event. The former prime minister was scheduled to speak on topics including a flower planting initiative that the school is promoting with the community.

    However, when the education board announced at the end of May that the lecture by Suga would be held, it was flooded with calls from people questioning political neutrality and the timing of the event. In addition, several civic groups reportedly submitted written requests for the event's cancellation.

    Daisuke Fujikawa, a professor of educational methodology at Chiba University, said, "Considering that the upper house election is approaching and some students have the right to vote, the lecture could be perceived as an election campaign. The school's decision to hold the event at this time was questionable."

    On the other hand, Shigeo Kodama, a professor of education at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Education, said, "The planned lecture was not during the election campaign period, so there was no particular problem."

    (Japanese original by Mami Miyajima, Nao Ikeda, and Masakatsu Oka, Yokohama Bureau)

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