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Get rid of money-wasting foundations, 'amakudari' before hiking taxes

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On Feb 29, the Diet passed a bill mandating a 7.8% pay cut for national civil servants. The principal aim is to raise money for reconstruction of earthquake-ravaged Tohoku. Secondarily, the hope is to convince the public to accept the tax increases widely seen as necessary given Japan’s ballooning social welfare costs.

Too little, too late, says Friday (March 9). What incenses the magazine, apart from the fact that even after the cut, bureaucrats’ salaries will remain enviably higher than those in the private sector, is the seemingly ineradicable practice known as amakudari – “descent from heaven” – an old and much maligned but stubbornly resistant custom whereby retiring bureaucrats parachute directly into lucrative sinecures they owe to connections forged while wielding, supposedly in the public interest, power and influence.

Amakudari has two standard patterns. In the first, a bureaucrat accepts a post-retirement position with a private company falling within his or her official jurisdiction. It’s a win-win arrangement, with only the public losing – the company gains influence in official circles, the bureaucrat secures an enviable post-retirement income the prospect of which, critics say, is a perpetual temptation to selectively relax bureaucratic enforcement of regulations.

The second pattern involves an array of government-supported “foundations” whose raison d’etre is often murky and which exist, some observers argue, less for their ostensible functions than to provide retiring bureaucrats with a dignified job title and easy money.

It is with these “foundations” that Friday is primarily concerned. Every year, it says, the government spends nearly 3 trillion yen on them.

The magazine lists 12 “zombie foundations” that continue to operate and consume budgetary resources even after the completion of the tasks for which they were supposedly set up. This would be dubious at any time; it is especially so, Friday says, in a time of desperate fiscal scarcity.

Exhibit A in its case against the “zombies” is the Digital Broadcast Promotion Agency (DPA), established in 2007 to help smooth the path from analog to digital broadcasting. The total budget earmarked for this purpose in fiscal 2012, more than 80% of it covered by government subsidies, is 30.5 billion yen, with 20-odd billion yen going to DPA. These amounts are only a very little less than last year’s – which is odd, says Friday, given that the transition to digital broadcasting was completed last July.

“It is true that digitalization is complete,” DPA board member Toshifumi Kitahara tells Friday. "But that doesn’t mean our work is done. There remain matters still to be settled, and it all takes money.” What those matters are either Kitahara or Friday does not say. What Friday does say is that the DPA is a hotbed of amakudari.

Regarding amakudari in general Kitahara observes noncommittally, “Well, different people hold different opinions, which I think is natural in a democracy.”

“Get rid of money-wasting foundations and amakudari,” Friday winds up, “and it won’t be necessary to raise the consumption tax.”

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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if everyone starts to understand this, and everyone drops the shoganai attitude, then maybe the littke man can slay the dragon.

10 ( +8 / -0 )

I have been saying this for years on end, the quickest way to put this country on better financial ground to to cut ALL ministry budgets by 15%(foreign & construction by 20-25%) they can EASILY make due with these cuts with all the thieving & waste. THEN make amukudari a crime & eliminate these foundations & parasitic NGO's etc ....

Do these & Japan will be rather flush with CA$H!! Then it cud be looked at & maybe raise the consumption tax a few percent & give all a pension, there DONE!

No get to it you idiots!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Ah, if only there only were a Japanese Wikileaks, spilling the beans on what truly goes on behind locked doors in Japan's political circles.

Juzo Itami went quite a long way to exposing some of this stuff. (He was the director of Marusa no Onna, Marutai no Onna, Tampopo, Ososhiki, etc.) I wonder what he would have made of the Amakudari mess and wasting of public funds by our "elders and betters."

Enough to get him bumped off twice, probably.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Seems so sad with all the wasted money yet they want to raise taxes on us. I already pay about the equivalent of $20,000 a year here in Japan, but the American IRS wants more. I do not like it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yes, the amakudari, which comes in the form of govt and pseudo govt organizations (dokuritsu gyosei houjins), and practices of hiring former govt officials (such as by TEPCO and JAL) need to go. Then, guaranteed life-time employment system for all govt workers need to go. Then, the number of politicians in Nagatacho need to be slashed by 50% as do the number of govt workers in Kasumigaseki. All govt orgs need to have a hiring freeze for the next 5-7 years. And all the ridiculous fringe benefits for politicians and govt workers need to go (such as subsidized housing, free flights and transportation, etc.). Only after all of these, would we consumers feel justified for a consumer tax increase.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“It is true that digitalization is complete,” DPA board member Toshifumi Kitahara tells Friday. “But that doesn’t mean our work is done. There remain matters still to be settled, and it all takes money.” What those matters are either Kitahara or Friday does not say.

That matter being people without a digital TV calling and asking where is my TV siginal? BS

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Amakudari is long overdue for being eradicated. Similar scams exist in many countries. Along with it, all "foreign aid " should also be ended. Foreign aid almost entirely goes to other governmental agencies with little or none actually reaching those it is ostensibly intended to "help". More tax??? How about NO!!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's almost amusing that there is no good foreign language translation for the very Japanese "amakudari".

There is one in English, it's called "the revolving door".

Another way contractors gain influence is to hire civil servants or political appointees with access to inside people and information away from their government positions, often offering higher salaries, bonuses, or other inducements. In some cases, highly-skilled and well-connected former senior government officials, many of whom have worked for the Department of Defense (DoD) or in Congress, enter the private sector as executives or lobbyists, or on the boards of directors of government contractors - a practice known as the "revolving door."

(Quote taken from a 2004 paper on the practice - "The Politics of Contracting". http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/reports/government-corruption/the-politics-of-contracting/gc-rd-20040629.html )

1 ( +1 / -0 )

YokohamaMiho, seriously? I don't pay anything to my home country, I only pay to Japan. Quite the opposite, I got married while here, so I get tax refund from my home country (from what, that is not yet clear).

Japan is a lost cause. Old geezers are slowly realizing that nobody wants to change their diapers in a few years, so they intend to take everybody down with them. Good thing about being a gaijin that we have a place to evade, and businesses are more than glad to know what we know about Japanese weaknesses. Har har!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

>I already pay about the equivalent of $20,000 a year here in Japan

You earn well in excess of ¥1,000 man? Lucky you.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Amen to the what the article says...damn parasite amakudari,s ...the public should give a kick in the butt to both major parties at the next election and vote in Hashimoto who seems to be the only one willing to take on the issue of public amakudari and public servants getting paid too much ..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The sooner the better ending amakudari. Never going to happen, though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@YokohamaMiho - You know that any overseas tax you pay can be deducted from your Japanese tax? So if you pay US tax as well, the IRS doesn't get more, the Japanese tax office gets less of the same pie.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

johninnaha: "Ah, if only there only were a Japanese Wikileaks, spilling the beans on what truly goes on behind locked doors in Japan's political circles."

The thing is that no one in this country would care. They would just shrug and say, "Shouganai ne" and proclaim there is nothing they can do about it.

It's almost amusing that there is no good foreign language translation for the very Japanese "amakudari".

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's a win-win arrangement, with only the public losing

Isn't that win-win-lose then?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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