SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 18, 2024

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Kobe Gakuin University

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 18, 2024, Kobe Gakuin University announced that Hu Shiyun, a professor of Chinese literature and linguistics, had gone missing after visiting China in August 2023.

Shiyun previously headed the Chinese language department at the university. He has also authored academic papers and books, including Chinese language textbooks in Japan.

Shiyun’s family believes that Chinese authorities detained the professor while he was visiting his home province, Jiangsu, in eastern China. Shiyun’s family has not seen or been able to contact him since he arrived in China.

In early March, after pressure from the family, the university requested that the Chinese Consulate-General in Osaka, Japan, provide information regarding Shiyun’s safety. The university has not received an answer.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent enforced disappearance of a professor. While state security forces have a responsibility to maintain security and safety, they must also respect international human rights standards and are obligated to comply with internationally recognized standards of due process and fair trial, including the right to counsel and the right to a fair and public hearing. State officials also have a responsibility not to interfere with the right to free expression, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly. Intimidation, detention or prosecution aimed at limiting free expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.