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Labor ministry to withdraw discretionary labor system survey data due to inaccuracies

Labor minister Katsunobu Kato speaks on the flawed survey data relating to the discretionary labor system, at a meeting of House of Representatives Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare on March 23, 2018. (Mainichi)

Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Katsunobu Kato indicated that the ministry would withdraw the results of a survey pertaining to the so-called discretionary labor system, following the discovery of multiple instances of flawed data.

Kato said during a meeting of the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare that the ministry had been unable to confirm that the survey data reflected the actual situation. Inaccuracies were reportedly discovered in data on working hours of those in the discretionary labor system.

Kato's comment came in response to a question from Chinami Nishimura of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

The problem data pertained to a fiscal 2013 ministry survey on working hours. Irregularities in the survey data surfaced in February, including overtime hours for the same worker being shorter for a whole month than for a single day in that month. The government decided to forgo expansion of the discretionary labor system in a labor reform bill, but it had not done away with the survey data itself, on the grounds that the data was still under investigation.

According to the ministry, 25 workplaces in the survey were listed as having employees governed by the discretionary labor system who worked no more than 1 hour per day. When the ministry investigated the actual situation following an opposition party claim, it was unable to confirm that anyone had been working like this as of April 2013, when they survey was conducted.

The ministry is currently checking the data for 11,575 workplaces covered in the survey against the original questionnaire forms as part of a detailed probe into the data flaws.

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