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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 February 21 - 27  > JCP Takahashi criticizes Abe gov’t for falsifying data in order to expand system increasing unpaid overtime
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2018 February 21 - 27 [POLITICS]

JCP Takahashi criticizes Abe gov’t for falsifying data in order to expand system increasing unpaid overtime

February 21, 2018
Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Takahashi Chizuko on February 20 at a Lower House Budget Committee meeting criticized the Labor Ministry for falsifying the results of a survey regarding the discretionary work system and urged the government to give up enacting a bill to increase the use of that system.

The discretionary labor system allows employers to pay only for the prearranged hours of work and not for the actual hours of work. Currently, the application of this system is limited to workers in certain occupational categories, such as academic researchers, system engineers, and journalists.

The Abe administration seeks to enact a package of bills to realize PM Abe’s “work-style reform” policy consisting of measures to relax work hour regulations, including the expansion of the discretionary work structure, as the top of its agenda at the current Diet session.

At the Diet meeting, Takahashi pointed out that motivated by the government intent to make the impact of the planned expansion of that labor system appear to be minor, the Labor Ministry falsified survey results in order to claim that the number of working hours in the discretionary work schedules is less than that in conventional work schedules. She said, “It is unacceptable for the government to employ such a cheap trick to broaden the use of the discretionary work program. It should abandon its move to propose the bill.”

Takahashi cited the results of a Labor Ministry survey of companies using the discretionary work system.

According to the survey results, among business entities surveyed, only 0.1% concluded an agreement under which workers are deemed to have worked more than 10 hours a day. Meanwhile, in the same survey, 31.7% of workers under the discretionary work system said that their actual working hours exceeded 10 hours per day.

Takahashi stressed that the discretionary work system facilitates unpaid overtime as under the system workers are paid only for the fixed hours they agreed upon with the employer. She went on to say that the expansion of such a system will aggravate the both issues of unpaid overtime and extremely long working hours, and demanded that the Labor Ministry conduct a factfinding survey regarding this work system.


At the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on the day, in addition to the JCP, other opposition parties also grilled PM Abe about the issue of the fabrication of survey data on the discretionary work system proposed by the Labor Ministry.

PM Abe expressed his intent to go ahead with the plan to extend the scope of the discretionary work system, while offering an apology for his previous remarks in the Diet in which he used the ministry’s “inappropriate” data to justify the system.

Past related articles:
> Abe admits discretionary work system will not contribute reducing working hours [February 15, 2018]
> Labor ministry’s panel begins discussing relaxation of working hour rules [September 9, 2017]
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