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6 ministries, 1 agency apparently padded number of disabled people they employ

TOKYO -- Six central government ministries and one agency are suspected of padding the number of people with disabilities they employ by adding those who do not legally qualify, interviews with officials at those ministries have found.

They include the ministries of justice, education, defense, land, agriculture and internal affairs. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is investigating government ministries and agencies to find out the details.

The 2005 health ministry guidelines on the employment of disable people define the disabled as those holding government certificates. As exceptions, people diagnosed by designated doctors can be counted as disabled workers. But the six ministries and one agency are suspected of counting workers who did not meet these definitions.

According to people associated with the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), which belongs to the land ministry, multiple workers were found to be hired as disabled although they did not possess government disability certificates.

The Act on Employment Promotion etc. of Persons with Disabilities stipulates that disabled employees must constitute 2.5 percent or more of the total workforce at government organizations. The JMA may not meet this standard, and an official with the weather agency said there was "a problem with its understanding" about the system for the employment of the disabled.

A senior official of one of the ministries concerned said that their organization did not confirm if its workers had disability certificates, suggesting that some of its employees include people with light disabilities. "There was a difference of understating regarding the definition of disabled workers between our ministry and the ministry of health," the official said, adding that other ministries and agencies could be "in similar situations."

(Japanese original by Kazuki Mogami, Takeshi Wada and Tsuyoshi Goto, City News Department)

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