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The National Personnel Authority on Wednesday approved a former ministry official’s private sector posting in the first application of a newly introduced system regulating former bureaucrats who take positions at private firms.

Setsuko Haruki, 56, former head of the Labor Ministry’s Women’s and Young Workers’ Offices, was allowed to assume a post at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. She retired from government service April 1.

The new system was introduced in fiscal 1998 to avert public criticism about a number of former bureaucrats who obtain lucrative posts at private businesses under the jurisdiction of the government bodies they worked for.

The practice is called “amakudari” (“descent from the heaven”). Under the new system, private businesses submit a request to the National Personnel Authority through the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren) when they want to hire former bureaucrats.

Through the system, direct contact between private firms and ex-bureaucrats can be prevented, according to officials.

In the Haruki case, Matsushita asked for a former Labor Ministry official who has expertise in matters related to the revised Equal Employment Opportunity Law that took effect April 1. The Labor ministry selected Haruki and obtained her employment agreement.

Under the National Public Service Law, central government employees are not allowed to assume posts at private firms that are closely related to ministries they have been employed with for two years after their retirement from government service.

In 1998, 88 former government officials who retired more than two years ago took posts at private businesses. The new system does not apply to those who seek jobs in the private sector two years after retirement.

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