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Japan PM bans 'descent from heaven' jobs for retired bureaucrats

Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama banned ministries from helping retired bureaucrats parachute into cushy jobs in government-linked agencies and the firms they formerly supervised.

world Updated: Sep 29, 2009 13:10 IST

Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Tuesday banned ministries from helping retired bureaucrats parachute into cushy jobs in government-linked agencies and the firms they formerly supervised.

Hatoyama's centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which swept to power in general elections last month, has promised to end the long-standing practice dubbed "amakudari" or descent from heaven.

Japanese senior bureaucrats, except for those who rise to the top posts, have tended to retire early and get second jobs, a practice blamed for breeding conflicts of interest, collusion and bid-rigging.

"We will immediately ban ministries and agencies from placing them in jobs, to respond to people's severe criticism of public servants' amakudari and to cut administrative waste," Hatoyama told a cabinet meeting.

He also banned job placements through the Centre for Personnel Exchanges Between the Government and Private Entities, the public window to funnel jobs to former technocrats, said the top government spokesman Hirofumi Hirano.

"I will eradicate amakudari fix-ups," the premier was quoted as saying by Hirano.

The Centre for Personnel Exchanges was set up under the previous conservative government of Taro Aso to help former bureaucrats find jobs.

Former state bureaucrats will also be banned from getting executive jobs at semi-government agencies under the new government.

The DPJ has vowed to wrench power back from the powerful technocrats.

Japanese bureaucrats have wielded far greater power than their counterparts in other democracies when it comes to steering policy, drawing up laws and carving up state budgets.

The heads of ministries, who carry the rank of vice minister, are often seen as more powerful than the politicians whom they ostensibly serve.