Abe orders gov’t-wide probe into cushy jobs for retiring public servants




Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered a government-wide inquiry into preferential treatment in the hiring of former public servants, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday, after a top bureaucrat resigned over illegally helping secure a cushy post-retirement job.

The top government spokesman told a press conference Abe has instructed Kozo Yamamoto, minister in charge of civil service reform, to carry out the probe of all government ministries and agencies “to alleviate public concern.”

The government on Friday accepted the resignation of Kihei Maekawa as administrative vice minister at the education ministry after a government watchdog released a report concluding the ministry systematically helped a director general land a post-retirement job as a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo.

The Cabinet Office’s Re-employment Surveillance Commission found that not only had the action violated the national civil service law, but officials had also given false statements during the inquiry in an attempted coverup.

The government-wide probe will begin with investigations in each section of government, with suspicious cases subsequently reported to the watchdog, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda said Friday.

Hagiuda, who also heads the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs, told a press conference he had instructed the top bureaucrats of key ministries and agencies Friday to strictly observe the rules on re-employment in the wake of the scandal.

Education minister Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday the ministry will slash the salaries of Maekawa and two others, while suspending the work of four and asking the administrative vice minister at the time to return his salary on a voluntary basis.

Matsuno said he will also voluntarily return his salary for the next six months to take responsibility for the scandal.

“It is regrettable that such a matter has occurred in an organization of public servants who must comply with the law,” Matsuno said in apologizing.

According to the panel’s findings, the ministry’s human resources department approached Waseda University in June 2015 about taking the director general in question, Daisuke Yoshida, on and proceeded to lobby the university in an organized fashion, including by sending a resume produced in-house and arranging interview appointments.

The watchdog is now looking into 37 other cases involving senior officials at the ministry, with nine of them suspected of having similarly violated the law, according to the report.

With Maekawa’s resignation, Kazuo Todani, director general at the ministry, will take over its top bureaucrat post.

Yoshida, 61, resigned from his post as a professor Friday, Waseda University President Kaoru Kamata said.

“We regret that our understanding of the re-employment regulations was lacking and we were unable to stop the ministry’s illegal involvement,” Kamata told a press conference.

Kamata maintained the university had not colluded with the ministry and neither sought nor received any inappropriate payoff or advantage for employing Yoshida.

But he did apologize for the university having “temporarily confused the (watchdog’s) investigation” by initially providing a false explanation regarding the ministry’s request.


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