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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday he received a prior report on the rejection of six nominees to the Science Council of Japan from Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita.

The remark highlighted Sugita’s involvement in the prime minister’s controversial decision not to appoint the six nominees recommended by the council as its members.

At a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting, Suga said he conveyed his “concern” to the Cabinet Office when the government received from the SCJ a list of 105 member candidates Aug. 31.

It was three days after then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation. At that time, Suga was chief Cabinet secretary.

In response to Suga’s concern, the Cabinet Office made a draft list of 99 SCJ nominees that excluded the six on Sept. 24, after Suga took office as prime minister on Sept. 16.

Suga formally decided on the appointments of the 99 on Sept. 28, he told the Lower House committee.

He said he was told before Sept. 24 that the six would be dropped from the list. “I think it was Sugita,” Suga added.

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