2020 Olympics to provide cozy jobs for over 1,000 ex-bureaucrats

TOKYO —

“Yakebutori”—to prosper after a fire—is an old word that refers to merchants whose businesses profited from the misfortunes of others, such as those whose residences burned down.

The fire that will ultimately kindle a huge amount of “yakebutori” gains, it appears, will be the “sacred flame” from Mt Olympus in Greece. By the time the flame arrives in Tokyo in July 2020, reports Shukan Post (Aug 8) at least 1,144 bureaucrats—at current count—will have retired and landed cozy second careers with generous salaries in construction firms and other major corporations, through Japan’s deeply entrenched “amakudari” (“descent from heaven”) system.

The main destination for these “amakudari” will be the large general contractor firms with vested interests in the 2020 Olympics.

The approximately 1 trillion yen the city has budgeted for infrastructure and other projects ahead of the games promises a generous windfall for the ex-bureaucrats.

Tokyo will be building or modifying 33 venues for the events, of which 28 will be within an eight-kilometer radius of the Athletes’ Village in Harumi, Chuo Ward. The estimates for construction costs have already swollen to 455.4 billion yen. In addition, infrastructure improvements to the metropolitan expressway and other projects will add 626.2 billion yen. Plus outlays to add elevators at 179 Tokyo metro stations in order to make them barrier free (23.1 billion yen), and various others.

In the past, according to a former government worker, when bureaucrats in the Tokyo metropolitan government retired, the accepted standard for annual salaries in their second careers was 10 million yen for a bureau head and 8 million yen for a division head. But thanks to windfall from the Olympics, their remuneration has swelled.

In addition to identifying the names and titles of these individuals, Shukan Post provides an extensive list of firms where the former bureaucrats will be assuming their lucrative second careers. They include general contractors (Obayashi-gumi, Tokyu Kensetsu, Shimizu Kensetsu, Takenaka Komuten, etc), manufacturers of construction equipment (Kubota), real estate developers (Mitsubishi Real Estate), private railway companies (JR East, Keihin Kyuko), electronics companies (Hitachi Ltd), printing companies (Kyodo Insatsu) and utility firms (Tokyo Gas).

The Tokyo government has already accepted initial bids for certain projects, and the firms involved have begun clamoring to bring in “amakudari” to “smoothe” the construction orders.

It seems local governments pose few constraints on this sort of hiring. The regulations for metro Tokyo workers specify that “A city employee cannot be hired to engage in related sales activities within two years of his retirement, if he has had dealings with the same company within five years prior to his retirement.” In other words, as long as the individual joins a section other than sales, he’s within the parameters of the law.

“In the case of civil servants in the national government, the law is clear about prohibiting ‘amakudari,’” says Eiji Hara, a former bureaucrat and author of a book whose title translates as “The tricks of the bureaucracy that keep Japanese tied up.” “But there are practically no laws constraining workers in regional governments, and they can get away with practically anything.

“Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City have been able to drastically reduce the hiring of retired civil servants by use of an ordinance instead of going to the extent of passing a law,” Hara adds. “But Tokyo hasn’t taken such measures.”

Japan Today

  • 8

    sensei258

    Massive construction projects in the Tokyo area certainly mean massive profits for the local Yakuza. I wonder how hard they "campaigned" for Tokyo to win.

  • 4

    gaijinfo

    Few events invite more graft than the Olympics.

  • 7

    sillygirl

    This is SHAMELESS.

  • 9

    Cricky

    Great to see those refugees in the north benefitting from these Games?

  • 9

    CrazyJoe

    The golden parachute for the bureaucrats. And if you opened the heads of this bunch (ex-bureaucrats), a lot of folders and paper clips would probably fall out.

  • 8

    marcelito

    This is a disgraceful corrupt practice. If Osaka was able to reduce amakudari drastically by using an ordinance - whats Tokyos excuse for not doing the same?

  • 4

    Leigh Ivan Quintellio Wighton

    "provide a cozy jobs" Really?

  • 7

    Scrote

    This is where the increased costs of the olympics come from: from ex-bureaucrats paid to do nothing and from bid-rigging among construction companies. I suppose that once everything is built they will investigate the bid rigging and give the companies a slap on the wrist, but all the money will have been wasted by then.

  • 5

    bruinfan

    The hogs get fatter...I keep thinking of Animal Farm.

  • 5

    GW

    Amakudari is a real plague on Japan, nothing good comes from it, should be against the law with so much abuse that goes on!

  • 5

    tideofiron

    Go ahead and wave your little flag while the rich get richer. O-mo-te-sagi.

  • 8

    onagagamo

    This is called "business as normal" in Japan.

  • 5

    Cricky

    I take offence at this, it's my tax dollars gone again on these greedy old men. I want my tax going towards the future of Japan not the past.

  • 2

    crustpunker

    Pigs get FAT while the hogs get SLAUGHTERED.

  • 5

    sighclops

    I often wonder "why the hell are taxes so high in Tokyo?!" Now I know.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. "amakudari" is a blight on Japanese society. Yet again, it's the old boys club running this place into the ground.

  • 2

    Alex Einz

    I need to find a way to cash in on this before its too late

  • 2

    Mike DeJong

    Incredible. Great article, guys.

  • 5

    kyushubill

    Not just Tokyo taxes, taxes collected all over Japan will be used to pay for this black hole of funding. Bear in mind that these "retired" folk are the real rulers of this archipelago.

  • 1

    gogogo

    Paramount to a bribe why isn't anyone doing anything about this?

  • 2

    kaynide

    I would like more info here... What jobs? And are politicians qualified to work them? Politics and construction are very different venues, after all.

  • 4

    Kurobune

    Isn't that what the games are for ? (part of it anyway) One big cash grab ?

  • 6

    jerseyboy

    The approximately 1 trillion yen the city has budgeted for infrastructure and other projects ahead of the games promises a generous windfall for the ex-bureaucrats.

    As shameless a practice as this is, the tax-payers of Japan have no one to blame but themselves for it. They are the ones who for decades have allowed the system of "amakudari" to flourish, and simply shrugged their shoulders and mutter "shognai" as they trudge off to get hammered at their favorite izakaya. Believing because someone memorized enough garbage to score well on a couple of tests, and then was awarded "fast-track" career as a result, and then a generous pension and second-career is simply un-imaginable to me. But the Japanese buy it.

  • 3

    kitzrow

    And you can bet they will not be watching the outside events! It will be too hot for them!

  • 1

    333333

  • 0

    sangetsu03

    I take offence at this, it's my tax dollars gone again on these greedy old men. I want my tax going towards the future of Japan not the past.

    This is where tax goes, no matter what country you live in, or political system you luve under. Governments are monopolies, and despite that many of them have "democratic" systems, the simple fact is that the same people, or groups people, always remain in power. How many of Japan's recent prime ministers are the sons or relatives of former prime ministers? Those few who aren't will be allowed into power unless they are under the thumb of others who are/were.

  • 0

    Mlodinow

    often wonder why amakudari is translated as 'descent from heaven' when a less literal "mana from heaven" might be more accurate in meaning

  • 1

    cierzo98

    Very good points made by several commentors here on the spending of tax revenue.

    And we shouldn't forget that no matter how long we foreigners reside in Japan, many of us with so-called 'permanent resident status, and many of us paying tax at the higher rates, we will never be allowed to vote - lest we vote against all this graft and stupidity.

  • 1

    Kapuna

    gogogo posted "Paramount to a bribe why isn't anyone doing anything about this?" OK, I give up, Why?

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