National

'Amakudari' probe expands to Foreign Ministry as 30 new cases turn up

Kyodo

The education ministry has uncovered more than 30 new cases in which it was illegally involved in finding jobs for retired or retiring bureaucrats, including those at the Foreign Ministry, sources said Saturday.

The latest findings in the ministry’s amakudari probe bring the total to around 60. The ministry plans to report the cases to the Cabinet Office on Tuesday and announce the results, the sources said.

The law on the re-employment of civil servants was reformed in 2007 to combat the long-standing practice of amakudari (literally meaning descent from heaven), in which retired bureaucrats win plum jobs in sectors they used to oversee. The practice is seen as a potential seed of corruption.

According to the sources, the cases include those in which education officials in the personnel section received resumes of retired or retiring officials at the Foreign Ministry and the Cabinet Office and helped them get jobs at universities.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said in an interim report last month that it had found 27 cases of illegal job placement.

Among the new cases, a former director-general at the now-defunct Sports and Youth Bureau became president of a private university in Saitama Prefecture in April last year. Officials in the personnel section were found to have made contact with the university at the time, the sources said.

The former director-general was in charge of the construction of the new National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, but quit in July 2015 after being taken off the project amid accusations linked to the withdrawal of the initial plan, which was publicly criticized for its ballooning construction costs.

Education minister Hirokazu Matsuno is expected to punish the officials deemed responsible.

The amakudari scandal is being driven by severe financial hardships at many universities and their strong desire to strengthen ties with the ministry to survive, experts say.

While the nation’s universities keep expanding in number and capacity, enrollment continues to drop as the population and birth rate shrink.

One private university official confided that hiring retired education bureaucrats is seen as a way to potentially help the schools secure state subsidies.

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