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Abe says gov't will hold ministerial meeting on child abuse following recent fatality

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers questions about the labor ministry's labor statistics irregularities during a House of Councillors Budget Committee session on Feb. 7, 2019. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting on Feb. 7 that the government will hold a meeting of Cabinet ministers concerned with countermeasures against child abuse on Feb. 8.

The ministers will discuss the creation of new rules on how to deal with information that suggests child abuse as well as how to strengthen cooperation between schools, child consultation centers and other relevant bodies in responding to alleged abuse. The move follows the arrests of the parents of a 10-year-old girl in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, who died after alleged abuse by her father.

The upper chamber's budget panel held closing debate on the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2018. The extra budget is set to be passed into law at a plenary session of the upper house later on Feb. 7.

During the panel session, the labor ministry's labor statistics irregularities were once again brought up.

Specifically, the committee discussed the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's interim report on its response to the ministry's labor statistics, which says, "It has not been confirmed that we asked the central government to change survey methods."

"(The ministry's) special inspection commission is examining the matter. I'd like the panel to hold discussions while taking into consideration the metropolitan government's interim report," labor minister Takumi Nemoto told the budget panel.

A report released by the ministry's special inspection panel on Jan. 22 states that one of the reasons the ministry illicitly changed its surveying method, which led to the irregularities, was "requests from local bodies."

A senior ministry official said it is considering accepting email inquiries from those living overseas about payments of overdue unemployment and other labor-related benefits -- caused by an irregular data collection method in a labor ministry statistical survey.

The prime minister and other government officials were responding to questions from Kanae Yamamoto of the junior coalition partner Komeito, and Toru Azuma of the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party).

(Japanese original by Yusuke Matsukura, Political News Department)

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