NTT tops list of ‘amaagari’ practitioners with 15

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. loaned the most employees to the central government out of 116 companies that had contributed workers as of August last year, government sources said Sunday.

NTT and affiliate Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. had 15 employees on loan to government ministries and agencies out of a total of 329 private company officials who were sent to work in government bodies in August 1999, the sources said.

Sogo Keibi Hosho Co., a provider of security services that had 22 workers working for Japanese government establishments overseas, was excluded from the list.

Of the 116 companies that dispatched employees to the central government, 36 were financiers and insurers that loaned out a combined total of 144 employees, the sources said.

Among the 329 employees dispatched to government entities, 105, or nearly a third, came from the top 10 companies, the sources said.

In the financial industry, Fuji Bank and Sakura Bank dispatched 11 workers each to government ministries and agencies, followed by eight from the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, the sources said.

Six of the eight Tokyo-Mitsubishi employees were dispatched to the Foreign Ministry to handle foreign exchange operations.

Employees of Fuji Bank and Sakura Bank were engaged in work at such entities as the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, the sources said.

Among insurers, Nippon Life Insurance Co. transferred nine workers to government bodies, followed by eight from Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co., the sources said.

The Health and Welfare Ministry, which oversees government-managed pension programs, accepted one worker each from 14 companies, while the Economic Planning Agency, which compiles statistics on gross domestic product, also received one each from 18 companies.

A total of 12 workers from three Japan Railway group companies were on loan to central government bodies, the sources said.

No employees from financiers and insurers were working at the Finance Ministry due to previous scandals that came to light in 1998 detailing the wining and dining of its officials by various financial institutions, the sources said.

The number of private-sector employees transferred to central government bodies was first revealed March 29 in a survey conducted by the Management and Coordination Agency. The agency, however, did not disclose names of those companies, saying it had not obtained the companies’ approval.

The practice of facilitating the hiring of private-sector workers by the public sector is called “amaagari,” or ascent to heaven, — as compared to the more widespread “amakudari” (descent from heaven) under which retired bureaucrats land lucrative jobs with private-sector companies.

Some observers are critical of the amaagari practice because it could also foster cozy ties between the bureaucracy and big business circles.

On the practice of loaning out employees, bankers said they do so at the request of the government entities.

Manufacturers said such transfers are aimed at using their employees’ expertise, adding that they recommend their officials to the ministries and agencies through the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren).