Government agencies may have padded their hiring records for people with disabilities by well over 3,000 people, informed sources said Saturday.
That accounts for more than half of the some 6,900 disabled who were reportedly hired by the government as of fiscal 2017 ended in March, the sources said.
The government is set to disclose more details at a meeting of relevant ministers Tuesday. It plans to compile preventive measures by October.
On Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told labor minister Katsunobu Kato to act swiftly to address the issue.
Japan’s companies and state agencies are required by law to ensure disabled people account for a certain ratio of their hires.
According to labor ministry data from December, the ratio of disabled people working at government agencies came to 2.49 percent of the nation’s workforce in fiscal 2017, higher than the 2.3 percent required for the year.
But the actual rate is now believed to be much lower, the sources said.
Companies that fail to meet the required hiring rates are subject to fines, but government agencies are exempt from such penalties.
“The government violated the rules after enacting them. This is an unprecedented scandal,” a support group for people with disabilities said.
The government now plans to launch a probe into the hiring of disabled people by prefectural and municipal governments, officials said.
An Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry official suggested the nationwide probe during a hearing by opposition lawmakers about the employment data scandal.
A number of ministries and agencies, including the labor ministry itself, are suspected of falsifying their employment rates for disabled people to meet the statutory target.
Similar cases have been also revealed at prefectural and municipal governments.
To get a report from the central government on the matter, the ruling and opposition parties agreed to hold an executive meeting of the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare on Tuesday.
Also on Friday, a group of regional assembly members with disabilities submitted a written demand to the labor ministry demanding that it investigate the issue thoroughly while promoting the employment of disabled people.