The Japan Society

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ARCHIVED The ‘Revolving Doors’ of Government in the UK and Japan, with Koichi Nakano and Alex Thomas

Thursday 10 June 2021 / 12:00pm
The ‘Revolving Doors’ of Government in the UK and Japan, with Koichi Nakano and Alex Thomas

Thursday 10 June 2021
12.00 noon - 1.00pm (BST)
8.00pm – 9.00pm (JST)
Check the time in your location

Booking Details
Free – Donations Welcome
Registration essential

Book online here

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In this webinar, Japan Society Chairman Bill Emmott is joined by Koichi Nakano, professor of politics at Sophia University, and Alex Thomas, programme director at the Institute for Government, to discuss controversies surrounding the relation between the public and private sectors, the specific issues and challenges this presents for the UK and Japan, and lessons we might learn from each other.

In recent months in the UK there has been much discussion of the probity of links between government ministers, civil servants and the private sector, ranging from former prime minister David Cameron’s work for Greensill Capital, to 'moonlighting' civil servants, to the allocation of PPE contracts during the pandemic. The powers of the government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) are being scrutinised, and a number of official enquiries have already been commissioned.

In Japan, a series of amakudari scandals in the 1990s was followed by reforms to the National Civil Service Law which addressed concerns about such appointments, aiming to prevent employment of government officials by companies in sectors for which they had responsibility, and subsequent lobbying. But revelations in 2017 that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MEXT) was still working to arrange post-retirement jobs for bureaucrats reinforced the need for further review. More recently, controversy has been caused by revelations of hospitality being given by companies to civil servants who regulate them, including one involving the prime minister's own son,in breach of the National Public Service Ethics Code.

It is widely accepted that there are benefits to government in employing those with private sector experience, and vice versa. But how can this interchange be managed effectively and transparently? How have Japan and the UK tackled this issue so far and what can each learn from the other’s experience in devising future legislation and guidance.

Koichi Nakano is professor of politics at Sophia University, Tokyo. He specializes in the comparative politics of advanced industrial democracies, particularly Japan and Europe, and in political theory. His research topics include amakudari and administrative reform in Japan, and decentralization.

His publications in English include Party Politics and Decentralization in Japan and France: When the Opposition Governs (Routledge, 2010) and in Japanese右傾化する日本政治(Rightward Shift of Japanese Politics) (Tokyo: Iwanami Shinsho, 2015) and戦後日本の国家保守主義―内務・自治官僚の軌跡 (State Conservatism in Postwar Japan: A Study of the Bureaucrats of the Ministry of Home Affairs) (Iwanami Shoten, 2013).

Alex Thomas is a programme director at the Institute for Government, leading work on policy making and the civil service. He joined the IfG as an experienced civil servant, most recently working as a director in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Before that, Alex was principal private secretary to Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service.

Alex worked in the Department of Health from 2015–16, the Cabinet Office on constitutional and electoral matters from 2010–15, and in Defra from 2003–10.

Explore our series of webinars with leading experts in politics, economy and media. More details on upcoming events and past webinar videos HERE