A House of Representatives advisory panel recommended Thursday that politicians’ family members and relatives should be prohibited from becoming their government-paid secretaries.

The panel also said secretarial salaries should be paid directly from the government. Currently, the government may transfer the salaries of the aides to the bank accounts of the Diet members who hire them.

In its final recommendation submitted to Lower House Speaker Tamisuke Watanuki, the panel said lawmakers should consider prohibiting government-paid secretaries from holding concurrent jobs and setting a mandatory retirement age of 70.

The panel reviewed the wage system and the employment relationship between lawmakers and their secretaries in light of a recent series of scandals involving Diet members allegedly embezzling secretarial salaries from the government.

Among them, former Lower House member Kiyomi Tsujimoto is facing trial on charges that she diverted much of the wages paid to her secretaries to cover the cost of running of her office.

It said lawmakers should give a month’s notice prior to firing a secretary and should stipulate the reason for the dismissal in a written document.

The Lower House Steering Committee is expected to hold more discussions on possible legislative action to implement the panel’s recommendations. However, it is unclear how soon the proposed measures would be put into action, especially as speculation is growing that the Diet chamber will be dissolved next month for a general election.

Final appointments

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Thursday named 26 lawmakers as parliamentary secretaries at 11 ministries and one agency, wrapping up the appointments in line with his Cabinet reshuffle this week.

Of the appointees, 22 are from the Liberal Democratic Party, which Koizumi heads, three are from New Komeito and the remaining one is from the New Conservative Party. The balance is the same as in the previous Cabinet.

The nominations were formalized later in the day.

The parliamentary secretaries assist ministers and senior vice ministers.

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