Japanese Education Ministry Officials Face Disciplinary Action over Misconduct

March 24, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. sanction / ˈsæŋk ʃən / (v.) – to punish
Example: The management will sanction employees who disobey company policies.

2. lobby / ˈlɒb I / (v.) – to influence the decisions of another
Example: The company lobbied the local government to pass the new law.

3. misconduct / mɪsˈkɒn dʌkt / (n.) – an illegal act committed by an official
Example: Corruption is the most common form of misconduct 

4. exploitation ˌɛk splɔɪˈteɪ ʃən / (n.) – an act that is committed to serve one’s selfish interests
Example: The employee was accused of exploitation after he allegedly used the company’s funds.  

5. scrutiny / ˈskrut n I / (n.) – a careful examination
Example: The company is under public scrutiny because of its involvement in the scandal.  


Read the text below.
The Japanese government has sanctioned education ministry officials for putting retired government employees into office.

A report by the Cabinet Office’s reemployment oversight committee revealed that officials of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) participated in several cases of “amakudari,” an unlawful practice in which a government official is reemployed in a profitable private or public sector post after retirement. 

One case involves Daisuke Yoshida, a Waseda University professor and a former official in the education ministry. Investigation revealed that the ministry's human resources department lobbied the university to arrange Yoshida’s employment.

As a result, the administrative vice minister of MEXT during the time of the controversy was urged to return a percentage of his salary. The other officials involved in the misconduct would also be penalized accordingly. On the other hand, Yoshida was not penalized since he no longer works for the government.

Amakudari is considered a violation of the National Public Service Act of 2007, which forbids government employees from assisting retired officials in seeking new jobs.

The public has expressed disapproval over the practice of amakudari as it may allow corruption among government workers and the industries involved. This practice was previously associated with forms of exploitation such as illegal bidding and price-fixing of government projects.

As amakudari is likely occurring in other government agencies, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed Kozo Yamamoto, minister in charge of civil service reform, to put other agencies under scrutiny for similar wrongdoings.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, in what other ways can officials employed through amakudari abuse their power?
·         How can the government ensure that its agencies are corruption-free?

Discussion B

·         How does a scandal affect the public’s perception of government officials?
Should government officials who were involved in a scandal be prevented from holding a future position? Why or why not?

March 24, 2017