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Gov to probe Confucius Institutes in Japan

Japan’s has become the latest country to say it will investigate the operations of Chinese Confucius Institutes on university campuses in the country.

Confucius InstitutesTokyo will take a closer look at Confucius Institutes. Photo: Unplash

"Confucius Institutes are currently hosted at 14 institutions [in Japan]"

The education ministry will prepare questions by the end of the year on Confucius Institute funding, participants and whether they have any influence on research at universities.

Confucius Institutes are currently hosted at 14 institutions across the country. Their establishment does not require government approval.

“There are growing efforts to seek more information or abolish the institutes in countries that share common values”

“There are growing efforts to seek more information or abolish the institutes in countries that share common values, such as the US and Europe,” said education minister Koichi Hagiuda, as reported in the Nikkon Times.

“I urge information disclosure to raise transparency regarding organisational management and research projects.”

Confucius Institutes have shut down in multiple countries – particularly in Europe and North America – over the past couple of years.

Critics argue their set-up is not comparable to other government-backed cultural and language outreach projects such as the Goethe Institut or British Council and have voiced concerns that their presence on campuses could given them influence over academic activities.

However, Confucius Institute members maintain that their operations revolve purely around language and culture, with no input into how China studies or China-related research is taught and done in universities.

There have also been calls in nearby South Korea for greater scrutiny of Confucius Institutes. This month a small group, Citizens for Unveiling Confucius Institutes, protested outside the Chinese Embassy in Seoul against the existence of CIs in South Korea.

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