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The government will launch a drastic review of “amakudari,” the practice in which bureaucrats retire early and take key positions in industries previously under their jurisdiction, in an effort to prevent further corruption, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka said Monday.Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto decided to start the review Monday after consulting with Muraoka following the arrest the previous day of the finance director of Japan Highway Public Corp., a former Finance Ministry official, on suspicion of bribery.In the practice of amakudari (literally, descent from heaven), former bureaucrats take lucrative positions after taking premature retirement, often at private-sector firms with which the bureaucrats have fostered close relations during their public service. Former ministry officials often assume high-ranking posts at government-affiliated corporations and receive huge salaries.Amakudari has often been criticized as a cause of corrupt relations between officials and the private sector. The practice has been prevalent partly because of the current ministry promotion system, in which one out of dozens of fast-track civil servants who entered a ministry in the same year can remain to become the administrative vice minister, and others have to retire prematurely, often in their early 50s, and find new positions either at private firms or government-affiliated bodies.To ease this trend, the Management and Coordination Agency has recommended that administrative vice ministers work until age 62 so same-year colleagues can remain in government service and not have to seek new employment.Muraoka said the Cabinet Secretariat, the Management and Coordination Agency and the National Personnel Authority will cooperate to draft an interim report on the issue by the summer to help halt amakudari.However, it remains to be seen whether any effective steps will be achieved because similar government efforts in the past have failed due to strong opposition from bureaucrats.

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