• Kyodo

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The education ministry said Thursday it has confirmed 62 cases in which current or former employees acted illegally in finding jobs for retired or retiring bureaucrats.

A report on the final findings of the ministry’s probe into the practice of amakudari (literally “descent from heaven”) concluded ministry workers have been systematically involved in the practice for several years.

And it found that this occurred despite legal reforms enacted in 2007 to ban the long-standing practice in which retired public servants secure plum jobs in sectors they used to oversee — a potential vehicle for corruption.

Announcing the findings, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hirokazu Matsuno said punitive action will be taken against 37 more people in response to the latest findings, including 27 serving bureaucrats. This brings the total to 43.

“It’s highly regrettable that we are dealing with such an unprecedented large number,” Matsuno told a news conference.

“We will change our human resources practices and organizational culture to build a new ministry that can be trusted.”

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 was seen as a way to potentially help the schools secure state subsidies.

The Foreign Ministry said Thursday it has disciplined a former head of its human resources department for submitting a resume to the education ministry to secure a job.

Inquiries into the practice have been taking place across public service groups following an initial probe into the education ministry in January.

According to the latest report, employees in the ministry’s human resources division have exchanged information with retired staff for job placements, and this was known to the head of the division as well as bureaucrats at the highest levels.

The report calls for a reorganization within parts of the human resources division and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism involving third-party observers.

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