TOKYO, Jan. 31 (Rahnuma): Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday vowed to conduct an independent probe into the flawed gathering of labor statistics that has dogged the labor ministry of late.
Following a grilling on the matter by Kazuya Shimba of the opposition Democratic Party For the People, at an Upper House plenary session, Abe apologized for the scandals and for undermining the public’s trust.
He said that ongoing investigations would be conducted more independently.
Along with quizzing Abe as to why the labor ministry was investigating its own scandal, Shimba said the government knew about the ministry’s flawed gathering of labor statistics, but knowingly opted not to inform the public.
Shimba also put it to Abe that the government had approved the draft budget for fiscal 2019 with knowledge of the scandal, yet chose to go ahead and release the erroneous figures anyway.
He added that the many figures cited by Abe in his policy speeches can thus not be trusted and hence deliberations in the Diet on the draft budget are meaningless.
Abe said he intends to get to the bottom of the scandals and takes the criticism against him, the ruling bloc and the labor ministry very seriously.
He pledged to make it his personal responsibility to ensure that such misdemeanors do not occur again.
Japan’s opposition camp has demanded that a new probe be launched into the multiple scandals that have rocked the labor ministry, with six Diet affairs chiefs agreeing that a third-party investigative panel that concluded its probe into a scandal at the ministry was lacking in objectivity.
During the probe, some of the questioning of ministry officials into faulty methods used to collect labor-related data were carried out by other officials also connected to the labor ministry, it has subsequently been revealed.
The embattled labor ministry said this week it found flaws in a survey related to jobs and wages.
The latest flawed survey, according to the labor ministry, has resulted in the ministry’s basic statistics on wage structure being compiled using faulty methods and the calculation of minimum wages being incorrect based on the erroneous figures.