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Council's Conflicts

The Science Council of Japan is mired in a political battle, ScienceInsider reports.

In October, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declined to approve the appointments of six candidates for the Science Council of Japan, a move that critics said was in conflict with Japan's constitutional principle of academic freedom. Others, though, said that as the council is a governmental body — it was established following World War II to provide independent scientific advice — the prime minister was within his rights to veto members.

Since then, ScienceInsider reports that Prime Ministe Suga's Liberal Democratic Party has suggested transforming the council into an independent group, an idea proposed by a group LDP formed to examine reforms to the council. This, too, has been the subject of criticism, it adds, as while the move would make SCP similar to national academies in the US and Europe, it would lack the autonomy those organizations have.

ScienceInsider further notes the SCP has issued its own report on reforms it could make, but that this has not changed LDP's push to change the council's status or affected the blocked council appointments.