The Management and Coordination Agency will seek out laws to suspend payments of bonuses and retirement allowances to national government officials who are implicated in misconduct, agency sources said Mar. 20.

Under the agency’s proposal to revise the law on salaries for public servants, such payments will be halted for a three-month “investigation period” after the misconduct or the resultant scandal comes to light, and pay will be formally withheld if the officials are indicted before the period expires. The move is a response to public criticism over the payment last December of a 3.2 million yen winter bonus to Nobuharu Okamitsu, the former vice minister of the Health and Welfare Ministry who had just been arrested on suspicion of accepting 60 million yen in bribes from a welfare business group owner in Saitama Prefecture. Okamitsu is scheduled to stand trial on the case next week.

Currently, government officials, including those who resign after being implicated in misconduct are entitled to receive summer and winter bonuses as long as they are employed by the ministry or agency at least one month prior to the date their bonuses are calculated. Okamitsu “voluntarily” quit the ministry after it was revealed in media reports that he received the money from the Saitama businessman. Health Minister Junichiro Koizumi was later criticized for not dismissing Okamitsu as a punitive measure, which would have prevented him from receiving the bonus payment.

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