• Kyodo News

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The Democratic Party of Japan-led administration said Monday it will appoint people from the private sector as presidents of five highway operators, naming Hidetoshi Nishimura, former president of major trading house Sojitz Corp., as chief of West Nippon Expressway Co., officials said.

The appointments are part of efforts to eradicate “amakudari” — the practice of government officials taking highly paid posts at government-affiliated organizations or private sector firms related to their former areas of supervision.

Presidential posts at the highway operators have been mainly assumed by former officials of the transport ministry and municipalities, with approval coming from past Liberal Democratic Party-led administrations.

Given the approaching expiration of the presidential terms, the changes are expected to be formally approved at the firms’ shareholders’ meetings later this month after being endorsed by Cabinet ministers Tuesday.

The administration also plans to abolish the post of chairman at the highway operators to cut costs, the officials said.

The other four highway operators that will have new presidents are East Nippon Expressway Co., Central Nippon Expressway Co., Metropolitan Expressway Co. and Hanshin Expressway Co.

Tatsuo Sato, former senior managing director of major chemical maker Showa Denko K.K., will replace East Nippon Expressway President Keiichi Inoue.

Central Nippon Expressway President Fumio Takahashi will be succeeded by Takekazu Kaneko, former vice president of chemical maker Sumitomo 3M Ltd., while Metropolitan Expressway President Katsumi Sasaki will be replaced by Keiichiro Hashimoto, former chief executive officer of credit-rating agency Fitch Ratings Ltd.’s Japan office.

Former Saikyo Bank President Mitsuhiro Ohashi is expected to succeed Hanshin Expressway President Hiroo Kinoshita.

West Nippon Expressway is currently headed by Tatehiko Okuda.

The top management of Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Express Co. will be reappointed.

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