Friday, July 3, 2009

Amakudari –A Unique Institution of Japan

Literally translated amakudari means “descent from heaven” and refers to the reemployment of top-level bureaucrats in high-level positions in private and public corporations as well as their movements to national political office.
Bureaucrats in Japan mostly come from the top Japanese universities. Making career in Japan is strictly up to age of every bureaucrat. For making a better career, a bureaucrat has to work in one position for his most life. However, when they reach to the age of fifties, mostly they are forced to retire. This forcing power also includes compelling them to move to the public or private sector corporations, and also to political offices as a member of board of directors. This kind of forcing happens through amakudari. Then these high-level officials reemploy in the firms and industries, which once they have regulated. New positions in public and private sector fill with people, who are aware of policies and principles or ministries and other government offices. With the information provided by new employers, business and other entities promote their activity by using the information for smoothing the relationship between government and private sector, and this represents a main role of amakudari.
The emergence of amakudari goes back to the postwar era. Amakudari first institutionalized when rebuilding postwar economy started. The main idea of amakudari came from management of human resources. Since that the institution of amakudari has been serving as a great breach in exchanging information and negotiation across legislative, bureaucratic, and business entities. At present, one can admit that amakudari became a social institution beneath the formal institutions.

The institution of amakudari is very unique. It plays a role of binding large firms with small ones in private and also in public sector. For example, Tokyo Metropolitan Government has more than seventy affiliated firms which are ready to guarantee its retired employers with amakudari positions. Many senior university professors find their new position in private universities after retiring from public universities in Japan. Another unique side of amakudari is that, it moves government personals unidirectional, and this fusing public and private sphere produces positive outcomes.
Another characteristic, which makes the institution of amakudari so distinctive, is that it is neither a formal nor an informal process. A set of rules are strictly followed, albeit there could be found on a single written rule about this process. Amakudari became a culture of bureaucrats with strict rules almost close to a code.
Amakudari also shaped its several paths in the past developing years as a social institution. The first path of amakudari is movement of bureaucrats from ministries directly to profit-making companies. The second path is movement of personals into public corporations or special legal institutions. This type of move is called yokosuberi, which means “sideslip”. The third path of amakudari is called wataridori, which means “migratory bird”. In this multiple retirement path bureaucrats pass serial retirements in the public and private sectors. The fourth path is movement of ex-civil servants into the political world. In this path, mostly bureaucrats became candidates for elections to the Diet, and this type of path is called seikai tensin, which means “movement to political office”.
Although there is a discussion about importance of amakudari, many people, including many scholars believe that amakudari plays a role of glue in building a cohesive power structure among bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen. The significance of amakudari institution is that it provides a negotiation channel in which top bureaucrats and business leaders interact closely and continuously to make differences smooth. Providing a basis for ministry influence of amakudari is also another great significance in Japanese bureaucracy.
There were two main reasons which helped amakudari to be formed in Japan. After World War II new administration norms and practices for the hiring of new recruits, promotion based on seniority and the earlier timing of retirement was established. This new establishment had great push on amakudari to spread out through Japanese bureaucracy. The second cause was the increased salience of gakubatsu, which means “academic cliques” in the bureaucracy.
Today it has been almost a half century since amakudari is being practiced in Japan. In these years a great number of thoughts about amakudari have risen both inside Japan and outside of the country. While being a great mechanism of handling bureaucrats after retirement, the institution of amakudari has shown its adverse side. Through amakudari’s history many cases like Japan Green Resources Agency’s officials’ case and Japan Highway Public Corp’s officials’ case were emerged and displayed negative influence of amakudari as it has been linked with bid-rigging and price-fixing of government projects with private sector representatives. Amakudari involved scandals caused to shape a group of people who are eager to curve the institution of amakudari from its core. In 2007 it even reached to be discussed in the Diet. Ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the incentive of the bill on curving amakudari, and he faced opposition of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). In 2009 the Prime Minister Aso put the old plan of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of eradicating amakudari for upcoming elections in 2009. However, there is a big question on the minds of politicians and also common citizens, weather the institution of amakudari ever can be taken off.
There is a big discussion between supporters and opponents of amakudari on the future of this institution. While Japanese political system afraid of cutting amakudari institution as it relies too much on bureaucrats in policymaking, the bigger group of opponents in the government fears of great retirement of civil servants and not serving for the interest of the government.
Despite of the debate on existence of amakudari in the system, it has been a unique institution of Japanese bureaucracy. It had a great positive influence after the World War II economy in constructing a solid system. Although its future is under a question, amakudari networks have provide underlying structural continuity and stability in a context of dramatic events, pressures, and formal policy making.


2 comments:

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  2. ha bu amakudari hech ham japanga xos institut emas. Kotta amakila hamma davlatlada har doim bir kotta ishdan keyin boshqa kotta ish topib ketishadi.
    Oddiy misol Tony yoki Gerhardla.

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