Yoshihide Suga, Japan's new prime minister, is facing criticism for rejecting six candidates for membership on a science council, the Japan Times reports.
According to Reuters, the Science Council of Japan is a 210-member body established following World War II to provide independent scientific advice. Every three years, half of the membership of the body is determined, with the council providing recommendations to the prime minister.
Prime Minister Suga has blocked six candidates from joining the council, a move that critics argue runs afoul of Japan's constitution principle of academic freedom, Reuters adds. It notes that these six candidates in the past were critical of policies put forth by Shinzo Abe, the previous prime minister in whose cabinet Suga served.
Suga has defended his move, and, according to Reuters, says the decision was "totally unrelated to academic freedom." The Japan Times has noted that Suga's defenders say the council is a governmental panel and the prime minister can veto members.
"I don't know at all why I was not appointed," Masanori Okada, a professor at Waseda Law School and one of the six, tells Reuters. "What I wrote [in the past] was that the government should act in accordance with the law... That is only natural."