National

Hoso Daigaku drops security bills-related exam question said to be critical of administration

Kyodo

The Open University of Japan, a distance learning institution, deleted part of an examination question it posted on its website after concluding the phraseology “was inappropriate because it criticizes the current administration,” it was learned Tuesday.

The question, which was included in an examination on Japanese art history, begins with the passage: “The current administration is preparing a system for Japan to conduct war again. It is said to be intended to protect peace and the Japanese people, but most wars are started under such excuses.”

The university, called Hoso Daigaku in Japanese, offers courses via TV, radio and the Internet and was founded under a government initiative based on a single-issue law for the purposes of its founding. Although it is classified as a private school, it differs from other schools in that more than half of its operating expenses are covered by the government.

On July 26, when the contentious security bills were being deliberated in the Diet, 670 students took the test.

The institution, after a student said the phraseology was questionable, asked Yasuhiro Sato, a visiting professor there who created the question, to delete or change the phrase before uploading it to its website. Sato, also a professor at the University of Tokyo, refused and said he would resign from his post in the institution at the end of the current school year.

“I wrote (the question) because I wanted students to think of the issue as their own problem,” Sato said. “It is really regrettable that we get restrictions in creating examination questions.”

Shin Kisugi, vice president of the institution, said the university has the obligation to follow the Broadcast Act, which states that broadcasters must be politically impartial. The question “is inappropriate because it mentions an issue over which opinions are divided and offers a one-sided view,” Kisugi said.

Since the university began accepting students in 1985, over 1.3 million people have taken courses, with over 83,000 of them graduating with an undergraduate degree, according to the university. Courses for master’s degrees are also available.

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