TOKYO • Opposition lawmakers are to grill Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on a controversy over academic freedoms in the Diet session that opened yesterday and will last until Dec 5.
Japan's academia has been upset by Mr Suga's unprecedented omission of six nominated scholars from the Science Council of Japan in what has long been a rubber-stamp process. All six had opposed the policies of Mr Suga's predecessor Shinzo Abe.
The saga has hurt Mr Suga's approval ratings, which fell 11 percentage points in a weekend poll by the Nikkei and TV Tokyo from a month ago, though it is still healthy, at 63 per cent.
Opposition lawmakers are also set to question Mr Suga on the government's Covid-19 pandemic response during the Diet sitting, even though Japan has avoided the soaring numbers other countries have had.
It reported 406 new infections yesterday, bringing its total tally to 98,327, though Hokkaido and Miyagi prefectures posted new daily highs over the past week.
Mr Suga has prioritised the reopening of the economy, such as the multibillion-dollar Go To campaign to encourage domestic travel. Just dozens have been infected out of the more than 25 million travellers who tapped the subsidies, he said.
The Prime Minister has vowed to secure enough vaccines for all Japan residents by next June, and said he will push ahead for the Olympics to be held.