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More cases of "amakudari"

January 21, 2013

2 key industry ministry bureaucrats landed lucrative jobs after retirement




By ATSUSHI KOMORI/ Senior Staff Writer

Two industry ministry officials who played a central role in Japan’s nuclear policy at the time of the Fukushima disaster went on to land senior positions at major financial institutions after they retired from public life.

The practice of retired bureaucrats ending up in jobs at organizations or companies that were often once under their jurisdiction is called “amakudari,” which translates as “descent from heaven,” and has come under severe criticism due to fears it fosters collusion between bureaucrats and private companies.

Kazuo Matsunaga, 60, was formerly vice minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Tetsuhiro Hosono, 60, served as director-general of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

They held these key posts during the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, which spawned towering tsunami that devastated coastlines of northeastern Japan.

Their re-employment will likely ignite controversy, because even now, more than 150,000 people affected by the disaster have not been able to return to their homes because of high radiation levels and other reasons.

Matsunaga became an adviser at Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. on March 15 last year, and Hosono assumed his new position as an adviser of Mizuho Corporate Bank on May 14, 2012.

Sompo Japan Insurance and Mizuho Corporate Bank have not disclosed the compensation packages for the two men. But generally, amakudari posts are very lucrative.

Matsunaga and Hosono were replaced by then industry minister Banri Kaieda in summer 2011 “to breathe fresh air into the ministry.”

Due to the fact they retired below the official retirement age, Matsunaga and Hosono received more than 10 million yen ($110,000) more in allowances than that given to those who voluntarily quit their posts.

As for why Matsunaga and Hosono were able to find re-employment, a Sompo Japan Insurance official said, “We hope to get advice on response measures to policy issues,” while an official of Mizuho Corporate Bank said, “We want (Hosono) to advise on general management matters.”

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