A Petition against the Amendment of the Education Act, and for the Protection of Democracy in Japanese Universities
At this point in time, Japanese universities and their democratic ideals are in a serious crisis.
During the current session of the Diet, the Japanese Government and the Ministry of Education are on track to pass an amendment bill to the Education Act. This amendment will confine the authority of faculty bodies to matters concerning the conferment of degrees and curriculum formation, and will divest faculty of the right to discuss and decide on personnel matters and budgets, radically strengthening the authority of chancellors or presidents. The amendment also denies the right of university staff to vote for chancellors, and aims to allow chancellors the full right to appoint deans.
Throughout history, universities worldwide have never ceased in their efforts to maintain the autonomy they need in order to defend their academic freedom from the overt intervention of governments or other organizations. Autonomy is indispensable for universities to accomplish their mission of nurturing free and democratic citizens. In Japan, the 23rd article of the Constitution guarantees academic freedom, and the Education Act stipulates that faculties in whatever kind of universities–public, national, or private–are able to meet to “discuss important matters.” The very legal framework for the self-government of universities is based on faculties as deliberative bodies. Authority over personnel matters and budgets should be regarded as the most important guarantor of this framework, and the current amendment bill, which denies these, is an egregious deviation in view of the history and universal mission of universities.
The Abe administration is trying to impose on Japanese universities the strategies of globalization promoted by the business community. By forcefully destroying the organization of universities this amendment will subjugate them to the will and intentions of the government and the business community. This new bill, together with the disorganization of the primary and secondary educational board system, and the forceful introduction of moral education into the primary and secondary national curriculum, is designed to suppress the democratic education that we the Japanese people have fostered since the end of the Second World War.
This proposed revision violates the academic freedom and autonomy of universities, and puts universities, which are supposed to be institutions for the people, into the service of state authorities. In this day and age, humanity continues to be faced with difficult questions to answer and problems to solve, and so the diverse and unrestrained development of universities is crucial. We, the below signed, petition for the complete revocation of this bill.
April 7, 2014
Ashida Fumio (Former Vice-President of Ritsumeikan University)
Ikeuchi Satoru (Professor Emeritus of Nagoya University)
Uchida Tatsuru (Professor Emeritus of Kobe College)
Oike Kazuo (President of Kyoto University of Art & Design)
Ohasi Hideitsu (Former President of Rikkyo University)
Konno Toshio (Former President of Fukushima University)
Nisitani Satoshi (Professor Emeritus of Osaka City University)
Hirowatari Seigo (Professor of Senshu University, Former Vice-President of Tokyo University)
Matuda Masahisa (Former President of Aichi University of Education)
Morinaga Takuro (Professor of Dokkyo University)
Yahara Tetukazu (Professor of Kyushu University)