‘Amakudari’ puts 721 at pension funds


A Health, Labor and Welfare survey revealed Wednesday that 721 former government officials had landed positions at 366 corporate pension funds as of March 1, and the lion’s share of them had no experience in the field.

More than half of the 721 officials are from the defunct Social Insurance Agency, the predecessor of the Japan Pension Service. The 366 funds make up more than 60 percent of Japan’s 581 pension funds, the ministry said.

About 90 percent of those in charge of asset management at these corporate pension funds said they had no experience in managing portfolios before landing their jobs at the funds.

All but two of the 581 funds responded to the poll on their hiring of retired bureaucrats, a contentious practice known as “amakudari” (descent from heaven). The poll was prompted by the massive loss of pension funds managed by AIJ Investment Advisors Co.

As of May 2009, 646 former bureaucrats had landed jobs at 399 pension funds. The increase in such government retirees taking positions at those funds in the latest survey apparently reflects the launch of the Japan Pension Service in January 2010, which led many SIA officials to secure pension fund jobs.

Of the 721, 405 are executives and 316 are regular employees. Of the 405 top officials, 15 are retired bureaucrats of the health ministry and 368 came from the SIA.

Only 3 percent of those in charge of asset management had previously managed funds at financial institutions and 2 percent had financial expert licenses.