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Top education ministry bureaucrat to quit over officials' bribery cases

Vice education minister Kazuo Todani (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The top bureaucrat at the education ministry will step down to take the blame for bribery cases involving its officials, a source close to the matter said Thursday.

Kazuo Todani, 61, will become the second vice education minister to give up the position in less than two years.

He took over the post after Kihei Maekawa quit in January last year to take responsibility for cases of "amakudari," or descent from heaven, in which education ministry officials landed post-retirement jobs at educational institutions supervised by the ministry.

This year, two former senior education ministry officials have been arrested and indicted over a series of bribery scandals linked to the education ministry.

Kazuaki Kawabata, a former director general for international affairs at the ministry, was arrested on suspicion of being wined and dined by a consulting firm executive, in return for providing a favor to the firm.

Futoshi Sano, another former director general, was arrested on a charge of accepting a bribe, after using his position to work favors for a private university in exchange for his own personal gain.

Todani's office has been searched by Tokyo prosecutors, as he was suspected to have been present during the wining and dining by the consulting firm.

The education ministry plans to punish several of its senior officials including Todani over their involvement in bribery allegations, a ministry source said Thursday. A decision will be announced on Friday.

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