January 15, 2020
Regarding Disciplinary Dismissal of Project Associate Professor Shohei Osawa
A series of tweets by Project Associate Professor Shohei Osawa contained numerous postings of discrimination, slander, smears, and falsehoods. These tweets not only hurt the feelings of many and made them feel unsettled and alarmed, but also infuriated people of diverse backgrounds. As the dean of III/GSII, I sincerely apologize for this.
On January 15, 2020, the University of Tokyo issued a formal reprimand of “disciplinary dismissal” against Project Associate Professor Osawa, based on investigations conducted by III.
The University of Tokyo is an academic institution that endeavors to search for the truth. In order to do so, having a forum for free and open-minded discussion amongst a diverse group of people is essential. Of course, this does not mean it is acceptable to engage in unsubstantiated personal attacks and discrimination in public spaces, including online social media. Such acts are the greatest infringement to free and open-minded discussion and erode our right to freedom of speech. The series of tweets by Project Associate Professor Osawa, in this regard, cannot possibly be tolerated by III.
Fostering an environment that nurtures the search for the truth cannot be taken for granted. Rather, it is necessary for every member of the University of Tokyo community to continue their work of adhering to the highest standards and a deep sense of ethical responsibility. I regret that this problem was not only caused by Project Associate Professor Osawa, but also by the inadequate response and negligence of the III/GSII.
III will endeavor to make sure that something like this will never happen again. To that end, it will launch the following activities as soon as possible: we will establish a forum where students and faculty can engage in constructive dialog; we will abolish the endowment to which Dr. Osawa belonged by the end of the academic school year; we will launch an investigative committee to assess the cause of the problems and consider ways to prevent anything like this from happening again; and we will improve our ethical standards and reevaluate the system of external outreach and financial endowments. Moreover, we will review our hiring process and the overall management of the school, in continued consultation with the university headquarters, to ensure the fundamental reform of our organization.
Noboru Koshizuka, Dean
Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies,
Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies