Cabinet Installs Bureaucrat Atop the Civil Service
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Posted 11/19/09 , edited 11/19/09
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Cabinet on Wednesday named former health ministry bureaucrat Takeshi Erikawa president of the National Personnel Authority at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting Wednesday, and his first task will be to attend deliberations on a bill to cut civil servants' pay.

The decision came after the Upper House on Wednesday endorsed the appointment. The Lower House gave the go-ahead the previous day.

The appointment has met fierce resistance from the opposition camp, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, which claims the choice runs counter to the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's policy of wresting power from government bureaucrats.

The Upper House endorsed former Vice Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Takeshi Erikawa as a commissioner at its plenary meeting, following approval by the Lower House the previous day.

The president of the authority, which sets working conditions for national public servants and oversees other personnel matters, is usually selected from among three commissioners. The post has been vacant since Masahito Tani stepped down in September.

The DPJ-led coalition government has been rushing to finalize the appointment of the president, who needs to attend Diet deliberations on a government-proposed bill currently before the legislature. The bill aims to cut bureaucrats' pay before Dec. 1, when their winter bonuses will be determined.

The DPJ has pledged to end "amakudari," the corruption-prone practice of landing well-paid jobs for retired bureaucrats at corporations in sectors they once oversaw.

Hatoyama had sought broad consensus on the appointment, saying a former bureaucrat who knows how the central bureaucracy works would be a vital asset in improving the management of the authority as part of the government's administrative reforms.
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