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Special committee says labor ministry workers knowingly collected stats improperly

The Central Government Building No. 5 in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward that houses the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is seen in this file photo. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- A special committee of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare investigating corrupt labor statistics that left tens of millions of work-related benefit recipients underpaid by tens of billions of yen in total pointed out Jan. 22 that workers knew data was not collected properly, but adhered to collection methods that were already in place.

The underpayments stem from corrupt statistics from the Monthly Labor Survey of wages and working hours over the period from 2004. Labor ministry rules state that the survey must cover all companies with 500 or more employees, but officials switched to a sampling survey for Tokyo from 2004 and checked only one-third of the employers, according to the ministry

"Workers including those on the level of division chief as well as former workers knew about the sampling survey, but unthinkingly adhered to the past handling of data," the committee said in a statement. It added, "Bureau and department chiefs failed to grasp the situation appropriately, and didn't amend it."

The committee pointed out that the improper collection method began as officials sought to limit the number of businesses to be surveyed in line with the abolishment of the methods of collecting data that had been used up until 2003.

The labor ministry estimates that the amount of unpaid work-related benefits such as unemployment insurance payments and workers' compensation due to the statistical irregularities stands at roughly 56.75 billion yen.


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