40 education bureaucrats land post-retirement jobs at universities, prompting fresh ‘amakudari’ probe

Kyodo

A total of 40 education ministry bureaucrats landed post-retirement jobs at universities between January 2009 and last April, and half took up their positions just a day after leaving the ministry, government sources said.

As re-employment immediately after retiring from civil service could violate the law, a team at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has begun to investigate the matter, the sources said Thursday.

Under the national civil service law, government officials are banned from facilitating the search for post-retirement jobs for other personnel and from seeking jobs in the sectors they used to supervise while government employees — a widespread practice better known as amakudari (literally “descent from heaven”).

According to the sources, seven other bureaucrats landed jobs at universities and colleges within one to three months after retirement.

The investigation came about after it was discovered last month that the education ministry helped a retiring senior official land a teaching job at prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo. The ministry’s top bureaucrat resigned following a government inquiry into the case.

The scandal shows that the central government’s ethically dubious practice of amakudari remains deeply entrenched despite a legal reform that was enacted in 2007 to root out the corrupt practice and avoid conflicts of interest.

The revelation that 40 bureaucrats landed jobs at universities after retiring came days after another prestigious private school, Keio University, admitted that a retired senior education bureaucrat landed a job there via the same man at the center of the current amakudari scandal.

According to Keio University and Cabinet Office officials, the senior bureaucrat in question was the director of a division that was responsible for issuing subsidies to private universities before retiring last March. He was hired by Keio in June.

The former official was given a position equivalent to a department head at the university and is now involved in administrative affairs there, the officials said.

A Keio representative claimed that he was hired through prescribed hiring procedures and that the university was not forced to hire him.

The university also admitted receiving information about the official from Kazuo Shimanuki, the 67-year-old former bureaucrat at the center of the scandal who acted as an intermediary between the ministry and the universities.

Under the national civil service law, government officials are banned from arranging or facilitating post-retirement jobs for other personnel and from job hunting while employed by the government.