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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 February 6 - 12  > Faulty survey scandal needs full investigation to restore public trust in government statistics
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2019 February 6 - 12 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Faulty survey scandal needs full investigation to restore public trust in government statistics

February 10, 2019

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Fact-finding efforts concerning the Labor Ministry’s falsification of monthly labor survey data and other similar scandals are showing little progress because of the Abe government’s intent to draw a curtain over the issue. Although the government and the ruling parties with reluctance accepted opposition parties’ request to call a former high-ranking Labor Ministry official to the Diet (February 8), they remain reluctant to uncover the whole truth. The use of erroneous data in compiling labor statistics affected unemployment benefits and other social insurance benefit payments to 20 million people as well as policy- and decision-making processes. Nevertheless, the Abe government appears to feel no remorse for causing the labor survey scandal, although this event has further damaged public trust in the government. It is unacceptable for the government to shelve the matter with only a half-hearted investigation.

In an opinion poll published in the February 4 issue of Mainichi Shimbun, 75% of the respondents said that their confidence in government statistics was shaken by the recent revelation of statistical manipulation. In another survey carried in Tokyo Shimbun on the same day, 83.1% thought that the government’s handling of the Labor Ministry’s manipulation of the data is insufficient. Nikkei Shimbun’s survey on January 28 found that 79% cannot trust government statistics.

As shown in the polls conducted by news media after the revelation of the faulty labor monthly survey data, the general public have distrust of and a skepticism toward government statistics as a whole. Not only ordinary citizen, but also academics are angry and concerned about the misconduct. The Japanese Economics Association on January 29 issued a statement on the issue and pointed out that international trust in empirical research based on Japan’s statistical data has been severely undermined. The statement warns that if the situation is not improved, it will result in negative impacts on an unimaginably large scale.

The summoning of Onishi Yasuyuki to the Diet is a first step toward having full information regarding the survey data scandal disclosed. He was formerly a Labor Ministry director-general for statistics and in a position to be aware of the details behind the data falsification. The ruling block should respond to opposition parties’ request to call other key figures.

In Diet deliberation, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and Labor Minister Nemoto Takumi have shown no remorse over the occurrence of such a serious problem. The government should be held responsible for the issue fully. In order to find out the whole truth, every possible measure should be taken, including the summoning of Liberal Democratic Party general affairs council chief Kato Katsunobu, who was the Labor Minister in January 2018.

Past related articles:
> Ruling parties refuse to summon witnesses in regard to falsified labor survey data [February 5, 2019]
> Shii grills Abe on false monthly surveys and Japan-Russia territorial talks [February 1, 2019]
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