Ex-Japanese Prime Minister Suga’s pre-election conference canceled after protests

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Yoshihide Suga (Mainichi)

YOKOHAMA – Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s lecture scheduled for June 13 at a high school here has been canceled following protests, the Kanagawa Prefectural Board of Education announced on June 8.

Suga is a member of the House of Representatives and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and was elected from Kanagawa Constituency No. 2. After the conference was announced in May, the school and prefectural board of education were inundated with more than 130 phone calls protesting that the conference could affect voting behavior in the summer House of advisers. The school board cited Suga’s schedule as the reason for the cancellation.

According to the board of education, the conference was planned by Yokohama’s Seya-Nishi Prefectural High School, which will merge with another school next spring as a commemorative event. The former prime minister was expected to speak out on topics including a flower planting initiative the school is promoting to the community.

However, when the Board of Education announced in late May that Suga’s lecture would take place, it was inundated with calls from people questioning the political neutrality and timing of the event. Additionally, several civic groups reportedly submitted written demands for the event to be canceled.

Daisuke Fujikawa, Professor of Educational Methodology at Chiba University, said, “As the upper house election is approaching and some students are eligible to vote, the conference could be perceived as an election campaign. The school’s decision to hold the event at this time was questionable.”

On the other hand, Shigeo Kodama, professor of education at the Graduate School of Education, University of Tokyo, said, “The planned conference was not during the election campaign period, so there was no no particular problem.”

(Japanese original by Mami Miyajima, Nao Ikeda and Masakatsu Oka, Yokohama Office)

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