In September, Chief Cabinet Secretary SUGA Yoshihide replaced ABE Shinzo as Prime Minister. Prime Minister Suga got into a lot of trouble when he did not appoint six members out of the 105 new member candidates recommended by the SCJ (Science Council of Japan) in October. While the SCJ is an independent organization whose role is to advise the government, its members are appointed by the prime minister. Up until now, the appointment of the members of the SCJ has been regarded as a formality, similar to the way the Emperor appoints the prime minster that has been elected by the Diet. The six members, who were not appointed, made comments in opposition to government policy in the past. The rejection of these appointments is a denial of freedom of speech and academic study, so many voices have been raised in protest saying that it is contrary to the original reasons the SCJ was set up. In an interview with the media, Prime Minister Suga remarked that he had not seen the list of recommendations, further fanning the flames. The opposition pursued the question of who had decided to reject the appointments and when. Then it came to light that the six names had been removed from the list before it was submitted to the PM. Since the SCJ receives one billion yen a year from the national budget, Prime Minister Suga remarked that its members were effectively civil servants. In addition, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has begun a review of the organization as a target for administrative reform. However, this has been criticized as a way to change the subject.
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