¥56 bil. in benefits not paid due to govt errors

Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — An error in the method used by the Japanese labor ministry for conducting its monthly labor survey in 2004-2017 has led to underpayments totaling ¥56.75 billion in employment and workers’ accident insurance benefits, and state subsidies to businesses, the ministry said in an investigation report Friday.

As many as some 20 million people received lower benefits than they were supposed to due to the survey error, which led the ministry to report employee wages of 0.6 percent less than reality on average during the 14 years.

The wage data are reflected in benefit and subsidy payment levels. The government will carefully trace the records to reimburse recipients for shortfalls.

“We’ll consider including necessary expenses in the budget,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference, suggesting that the government will revise its fiscal 2019 draft budget to deal with the survey error problem.

The revision is expected to be decided at a Cabinet meeting as early as next week.

Finance Minister Taro Aso told a separate press conference that the revision amount is currently being examined.

It is extremely rare for the government to revise its budget plan that has already been adopted at a cabinet meeting.

As some labor ministry officials are seen to have continued using the wrong method knowing that it was problematic, the revelation of the survey error has raised questions about the credibility of government statistics as a whole.

Suga said the government plans to check the survey methods used for compiling its 56 key statistics reports.

The nationwide labor survey is supposed to cover all businesses with 500 or more workers. But only about one third of such businesses in Tokyo were recently found to have been covered since 2004, raising the possibility that actual wages could have been higher than the reported levels.

The unpaid total includes some ¥28 billion for the employment insurance system, including unemployment benefits, affecting around 19 million people who received payments in August 2004 or later, or some ¥1,400 per person on average.Speech

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