TOKYO: A Japanese writer went on a hunger strike to protest Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s rejection of the recommendation of six scholars to the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), a decision that has led to worries about a lack of academic freedom in the country.
Some local media, however, offered an opinion by a Taiwanese professor claiming that the “SCJ is supporting China to recruit excellent scientists from all over the world without admitting it” and the “council is turning a blind eye to China’s threat” while saying that it doesn’t interfere with military issues.
Sitting in front the PM’s Office in Tokyo while drinking only water and eating only salt, the hunger striker told Arab News Japan that he is calling on academia to join his protest “for academic freedom.”
After his recent election, Suga decided to reject the appointment of six members to the Science Council of Japan.
The six have reportedly taken individual positions contrary to the policy of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party in recent years regarding national defense, like the extension of military bases in Okinawa.
In democracies around the world, researchers are considered free to hold ideological positions and political ideas, an idea called academic freedom, which is necessary for research to be conducted independent of political powers and their possible pressures on researchers.
Sitting in a chair in the pouring rain as he awaits the arrival of the typhoon, the protester displayed a photo of French writer Émile Zola. He is on strike to let passersby know about his struggle.
As the weather in Tokyo worsened, the protester left the spot and returned home to avoid cold air and rain, police members assigned to the prime minister office area told Arab News Japan.