National

Education ministry crafted Q&A to hide role in retiree's 'amakudari' professorship

Kyodo

The education ministry had prepared lists of potential questions and answers to hide its systematic involvement in helping a senior official land a post-retirement teaching job in 2015, according to ministry documents.

The lists, which were presented by the ministry to an opposition party meeting on Tuesday, add to an amakudari (literally “descent from heaven”) scandal that has already led to the resignation of the ministry’s top bureaucrat and reprimands of other officials involved.

The lists, created last July by the ministry’s personnel division, were intended to coordinate the stories among those involved and make it appear as if a former ministry official had arranged the senior official’s employment at Tokyo’s Waseda University at the request of the school after the senior official retired.

Specifically, the lists made it appear as if the university had asked the unrelated former official in around April 2015 to introduce to it someone “knowledgeable about higher education” and contact the senior official, Daisuke Yoshida, about a professorship at the school on Aug. 5, 2015, one day after his retirement.

The former official then arranged a job interview for Yoshida the following day, according to the lists.

But in reality, another former official, who used to work at the ministry’s personnel division, had helped in Yoshida’s employment, and in July 2015, Yoshida had ministry officials send his resume to the university and arrange a job interview for him.

Under the National Public Service Law, government officials are banned from facilitating post-retirement jobs for other personnel and from job-hunting while still working in the government.

The lists also instructed the university to say it does not know how three other former education ministry officials came to be employed at the university in the last 10 years, according to the Cabinet Office’s Reemployment Surveillance Commission.

The watchdog had been secretly holding inquiries over the post-retirement employment when the lists were prepared.

The watchdog has looked into 37 other cases of questionable job placements between 2013 and 2016 and determined nine of them violated the law.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made clear at a Diet session that the government will no longer allow ministries and agencies to offer any information related to post-retirement employment for former officials.

Amid rising criticism, the education ministry has begun looking for outside legal experts and academics who will join an internal probe into the amakudari scandal. The move comes in response to criticism from both ruling and opposition lawmakers that any finding made by an internal ministry probe within the organization cannot be trusted.

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