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A panel of the ruling alliance agreed April 14 on a draft bill that would, in principle, ban government employees from receiving gifts and entertainment from corporations, organizations and individuals.

The draft, which was approved by the panel on ethical standards for public servants, states that government officials in the post of deputy division chief or higher would be banned from accepting gifts and entertainment from companies directly under their jurisdiction.

Officials in these positions would be allowed to receive honoraria only on limited occasions, including lectures. They would be required to report to the heads of their ministries each time they accept monetary rewards or other forms of gifts worth more than 5,000 yen.

If the amount exceeds 20,000 yen, ministry heads would be required to make the report public, the bill says. In addition, the report would also be submitted to a board of ethical review staffed by government officials.

The review board, which would be created within the National Personnel Authority, would be in charge of examining gift and entertainment reports submitted by the ministries, setting standards for penalizing violators, and advising government ministries and agencies related to enforcing discipline among bureaucrats.

The board members would be appointed by the Cabinet after approval from the Diet and would have the authority to conduct on-site inspections and reprimand officials, if necessary.

The Liberal Democratic Party and its two smaller allies — the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake — worked out the draft after a series of money scandals was found to involve officials of the Finance Ministry and the nation’s leading financial institutions.

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