Journalists and academics have joined forces to openly criticize recent remarks by communications minister Sanae Takaichi that the government might suspend broadcasters' operations if they air programs it considers politically biased.

Takaichi's Feb. 8 remarks on the Broadcast Law, which includes a call for political neutrality, have since sparked a widespread outcry that they are tantamount to the repression of free speech and run afoul of the nation's democratic principles.

On Wednesday, a group of scholars unveiled a statement protesting the remarks, calling them emblematic of what they say is the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-led government's "blatant" willingness to abuse power.