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2009年2月 5日 (木)

社説:公務員制度改革 「天下り根絶」の裏付けを示せ

(Mainichi Japan) February 5, 2009

Gov't should prevent public servants from landing post-retirement jobs in private sector

社説:公務員制度改革 「天下り根絶」の裏付けを示せ

The government has approved a schedule to reform the public servant system and an outline of a plan to set up a new personnel and administrative management bureau in the Cabinet Secretariat amid confusion.


Without gaining consent from the National Personnel Authority, the government decided to give broad power to the bureau, which would be the sole body to manage personnel affairs for the central government. The authority has reacted sharply to the plan. However, the authority's response is too stubborn to be understood by the public. The government must settle the dispute at an early date.


Moreover, measures to prevent public servants from landing post-retirement jobs in businesses they once supervised -- which is outlined in the schedule of the reform -- are not sufficient. The government should work out a concrete personnel management system.


The reform is based on the fundamental law on national public service system reform, which was passed into law last year, with the aim of eliminating bureaucratic sectionalism. The focus of the reform is to give broad power to the personnel and administrative management bureau to be set up in the Cabinet Secretariat. The National Personnel Authority strongly opposes transferring its power to the Cabinet Secretariat's personnel and administrative management bureau for such issues as determining the number of bureaucrats at each ministry depending on their pay grades, hiring central government officials, holding recruitment and other examinations and training personnel. Its President Masahito Tani is one of the staunch opponents.


The authority insists that it has been granted the power to determine the number of bureaucrats at each ministry in return for restrictions on national government officials' basic labor rights, such as a ban on going on strike. If so, one option is to transfer the power to the bureau after giving national public servants the right to make a collective labor agreement with the management, which the government is considering.


It is not necessarily true that only the National Personnel Authority can handle the planning of recruitment and promotion examinations and other personnel management measures. In consolidating power over personnel management to a single division, it is inevitable to transfer some of the power out of the National Personnel Authority. Measures to ensure the neutrality and fairness of general public servants should be considered separately.


We agree with the decision to make the personnel and administrative management bureau the sole organization to handle the personnel affairs of the central government. However, if bureaucrats loaned from other ministries and agencies to the bureau control personnel management, it could only increase bureaucrats' power in the government's decision-making. It is worth studying the recruitment of private sector people as director generals and staff members of the bureau.


In the meantime, more should be done to prevent bureaucrats from landing post-retirement jobs in the industry they once supervised. It is understandable that the government is considering extending bureaucrats' mandatory retirement age, eliminating the established custom of career bureaucrats retiring before reaching the mandatory retirement age and creating a system to reappoint retired officials as part of a review of the government's personnel management. However, as long as the government has declared that it will ban bureaucrats from obtaining post-retirement jobs in the private sector, it should pledge to eventually abolish the Kanmin Jinzai Koryu Center (public-private personnel exchange center), which has been established as the sole body to introduce post-retirement jobs to bureaucrats.


Prime Minister Taro Aso, who had initially appeared unenthusiastic about reforming the public servant system, appears to be changing. He has declared that the government will not allow retired bureaucrats to land post-retirement jobs under a practice called "watari." Moreover, he pledged to work out government regulations to ban ministries from introducing post-retirement jobs to bureaucrats within this year, earlier than originally scheduled.


It should be recognized as a step forward even though Aso did it in response to criticism from both ruling and opposition parties that he was lenient toward bureaucrats.


The largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan is also responsible for helping pass the fundamental law on national public service system reform. Therefore, it cannot win understanding from the public if it only opposes the schedule of reforming the public servant system announced by the government. If it disapproves the government's plan, it should present its own vision on reforming the system. It should compete with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party over their reform plans during the upcoming House of Representatives election.


毎日新聞 200924日 009


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