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The Cabinet on Friday approved the nomination of Kosaburo Morinaka to head Narita International Airport Corp., opting to deny President Masahiko Kurono a second term as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to end the cushy government retirement practice known as “amakudari.”

The decision to name Morinaka, 64, special adviser at trading house Sumitomo Corp., was made despite opposition from transport ministry officials who had pushed to reappoint Masahiko Kurono, a former vice transport minister. Morinaka was nominated by the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.

The decision to reject Kurono was made by the prime minister’s office, sources said.

Amakudari, which literally means “descent from heaven,” is a practice in which civil servants retire into high-paying private or quasigovernmental positions that have been arranged for them. The government has been trying to eliminate the unseemly practice because the retired bureaucrats often get caught creating conflicts of interest running companies in sectors they once regulated.

“It’s extremely difficult to manage a private company so I hope Morinaka will turn Narita into a premier international airport that will enhance convenience for travelers and benefit many countries,” transport minister Tetsuzo Fuyushiba told a news conference.

Morinaka’s appointment is expected to be formalized at the airport operator’s general shareholders’ meeting June 22. Kurono is expected to become a special adviser to the company next month.

With shareholder approval, Morinaka will become the first president from the private sector in the airport’s 29-year history.

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