• Kyodo News


The Social Insurance Agency said it received roughly 470,000 telephone inquiries from people seeking information about their pension account records in the first 24 hours after adding a toll-free service to its paid-line service.

The toll-free line started operating Monday morning and received about 90 percent of the total calls. The agency said it was able to respond to only about 17,000 of the calls made to both services.

It plans to boost telephone staff to about 1,000 from the current 530 by the end of the month. But even with the increase, the agency probably still won’t be able to handle all of the incoming calls, which have exceeded five per second.

The agency has been deluged by calls since a massive record-keeping blunder surfaced.

Its paid-line consultation service, which opened June 4, received about 260,000 inquiries in the 24 hours from 8:30 a.m. on June 8.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday night, Toshio Imabeppu, head of the planning section in the agency’s administration department, said he initially expected around 300,000 total calls because of the introduction of the toll-free service.

“We were very surprised by the actual number of calls received. We are sorry for not being able to respond to all of the inquiries,” he said.

The number of inquiries stayed at the same level during the day and night. Most callers were greeted by an automated message saying, “The line is busy. Please try again,” no matter how many times they tried.

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