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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

'Amakudari' excesses seen targeted in new, centralized plan


Staff writer

The country's key policy-setting panel Tuesday approved a government plan to restrict "amakudari," the long controversial practice of bureaucrats receiving executive or adviser jobs, often in industries they once oversaw, after they retire.

An outline of the plan, submitted by administrative reform minister Yoshimi Watanabe, says ministries should be prohibited from helping bureaucrats find new jobs.

Instead, the government wants to create a centralized "human resources bank" that would oversee job-hunting, a task now handled by each ministry for its retiring bureaucrats. The new body would be under the direct supervision of the Cabinet secretariat. Details of the body would be determined by a panel of experts.

But it still remains unclear how long it will take to create the new body. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the panel, the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, that the government will set up the body "as soon as possible" to completely centralize the ministries' job-hunting within three years after its establishment.

"I have said that we have to root out the ministries' somewhat forcible job-hunting (tactics) that are backed by their budgetary power and authority," Abe told a news conference earlier in the day.

Abe said the government aims to submit a bill in April to make the changes by the end of the Diet session in June.

Yet, many lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party oppose what would be the first reform of the controversial practice known as "descent from heaven," saying quick curbs would jeopardize bureaucrats' motivation. The reform plan has also met strong opposition by bureaucrats.

Much public criticism surrounds amakudari, including the government's practice of maintaining some quasi-governmental institutions apparently just to take in retired bureaucrats and pay them high salaries.



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The Japan Times

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