National

Top education ministry bureaucrat to resign over revolving-door appointment

Kyodo

The education ministry’s top bureaucrat is set to resign following his alleged involvement in illegally securing a senior official a post-retirement university job, a senior ministry official said Thursday.

An inquiry into the case against Administrative Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Kihei Maekawa also found evidence that the practice was widespread.

According to sources close to the matter, the probe centered on claims that the ministry’s human resources division gave information to Tokyo’s Waseda University about the director general of its higher education bureau, who was hired by the university in a so-called amakudari (descent from heaven) appointment after retiring in 2015.

The panel is also thought to have been given information on dozens of similar cases, raising the possibility that the ministry has been systematically involved in amakudari, in which retired bureaucrats land cushy jobs at entities in sectors they used to supervise.

The scandal, which comes a day before the start of the regular Diet session, indicates authorities have been unable to fully end such practices, a potential vehicle for corruption, despite targeted reform of the law governing public servants in 2007.

According to the sources, the ministry initially denied that it had used its influence to land the former bureaucrat a job when asked by panel investigators. The panel found this was false after checking with the university.

The former bureaucrat at the center of the scandal denied Thursday that he had sent documents on his own career history to Waseda while still employed by the government, another potential violation of the law. He said he will “consult with the university” over the matter.

Under Article 106 of the National Public Service Act, public servants cannot ask companies or entities to employ their retired colleagues, nor can they provide information about them.

The law also restricts bureaucrats from carrying out their own job searches while still in office. It forbids them from asking companies to set aside a job for them to take up after retirement.

Retired public servants who have found private sector jobs are forbidden from lobbying their former employers, such as by feeding them industry-relevant information, for a period of two years.

The former director general was employed by Waseda in October 2010, around two months after leaving the ministry.

His five-year contract as a professor at the university’s Center for Higher Education Studies involves teaching higher education policy and copyright process.

The sources said the Cabinet Office’s Re-employment Surveillance Commission has interviewed a number of retired and current senior bureaucrats at the education ministry in connection with suspected amakudari cases.