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Suga's rejection of science nominees spurs constitutional storm

Scholars in Japan slam decision on council positions as infringing on academic freedom

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, left, speaks during an interview on Oct. 5. A general meeting of the Science Council of Japan, right, was held on Oct. 2 (Source photos by Kyodo and Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- Just weeks into his tenure, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is stirring controversy by breaking with careful precedent in rejecting the appointment of six scholars nominated to join the prestigious and apolitical Science Council of Japan, a surprising move that has quickly turned into a sharp debate over the country's constitution.

Critics are raising the alarm over what they see as a dangerous decision infringing on academic freedom, a sensitive issue in a nation that in many ways remains wary of political interference in intellectual life given the history of military influence on government in the years leading up to and through World War II.

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