Japanese authorities to conduct review of Beijing funded Confucius Institute

TOKYO: Japanese authorities will conduct a review of a Beijing funded educational organisation known as the Confucius Institutes amid concerns that a group is a propaganda tool of China.

This comes as tensions between China and Japan are escalating over a slew of issues.


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The Japanese education ministry will ask universities that host the institutes to provide such information as to funding, the number of participating students and whether it intervenes in university research. The list of questions will be formalised by the end of the year.

According to Asia Nikkei, Tokyo is worried that technologies can be leaked to the Chinese side through personal exchanges. The move follows US and European attempts to regulate the institutes’ activities in their countries.

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

China began establishing the institutes in 2004 across the globe to expand its soft power reach by spreading its culture and language.

The organisation has an estimated 500 chapters in about 160 countries and regions. In Japan, 14 private universities including Waseda University and Ritsumeikan University have Confucius Institutes on campus.

Haruko Arimura, former minister of state for measures for declining birthrate, pointed out at an upper house committee meeting in May that the Confucius Institutes is “recognised as a security threat by other countries.”

Arimura then proposed that related ministries and agencies cooperate to monitor the organisation. Yoshinori Hakui, head of the ministry’s higher education bureau, told parliament that “there is no example of [other countries] establishing a cultural base like the Confucius Institute” except China.

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