Statement on scientific freedom in Japan

The ISC lends strong support to its member the Science Council of Japan in efforts to maintain scientific freedom of choice in selecting which scholars to appoint to scientific governance bodies.

ISC President Daya Reddy has expressed concern regarding the decision of the Prime Minister of Japan not to approve the appointment of six scholars to the General Assembly of the Science Council of Japan, which is a member of the ISC.

In a letter sent to the President of the Science Council of Japan on 17 November and released today, the ISC lends its support to the Science Council of Japan’s efforts to defend and secure scientific freedom of choice in nominating members for its highest decision-making body.

The letter follows the announcement that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has rejected the appointment of six scholars to the General Assembly of the Science Council of Japan. All of the six rejected scholars had, on occasion, criticised legislation adopted by the previous administration.

The ISC stands for the free and responsible practice of science, and advocates that decisions of a scientific nature, including those related to the prioritisation and scope of scientific activities, should not be subject to political control or pressure. The ISC promotes equitable opportunities for access to science and its benefits, and opposes discrimination based on such factors as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age. The ISC is therefore concerned that the recommendations of the highest independent scientific authority in Japan have been overturned by Prime Minister Suga.

The ISC and its member the Science Council of Japan together promote the importance of enabling environments for the free and responsible pursuit of science as a means to provide reliable evidence that can inform policy-making and help secure solutions to some of the most challenging problems facing society today.

Read the letter sent by Professor Daya Reddy, President of the ISC, to Professor Takaaki Kajita, President of the Science Council of Japan.

The Executive Team of the Science Council of Japan will hold a press meeting on 26 November 2020. A recording of a past press meeting relevant to this matter is available here (in Japanese). 

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