The following resolution was adopted by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers Council meeting on 25 October 2020: 

IADL RESOLUTION CONDEMNING JAPANESE GOVERNMENT’S INTERVENTION IN ACADEMIC FREEDOM

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) condemns the Japanese government’s intervention in academic freedom.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the successor of the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, refused to appoint six recommended candidates to be members of the Science Council of Japan in September 2020. This incident has raised severe criticism throughout Japan regarding the government’s illegitimate intervention against academic freedom.

The Science Council of Japan, a representative organization of scholars including all areas of humanities, social, natural, and life sciences, was established in 1949 based on repentance for scientists’ involvement during World War II. It has issued statements to oppose military use of sciences since 1950.

For decades, the Japanese government has taken a position that the Cabinet shall have no discretion to refuse any candidate recommended by the Science Council. However, Prime Minister Suga recently refused such an appointment for the first time. The six rejected candidates have criticized government policies in the past, such as the security law in 2015 and the conspiracy law in 2017, both of which were pursued by former Prime Minister Abe.

We do not accept the Suga Cabinet’s refusal of candidates’ appointments. Tis constitutes suppression of scholars with academic views critical of the government. It is an unjustified political intervention in the academy, which should be independent of the government and enjoy academic freedom.

25 October 2020