National / Politics

Diet discussion halted after Justice Ministry says data in survey on missing foreign trainees was miscalculated

JIJI

The ruling coalition dropped a plan to start substantive deliberations in the Diet on Friday on a bill that would increase the number of foreign workers in the country amid a major backlash from opposition parties over errors in a related government survey.

At an executive meeting of the Lower House Committee on Judicial Affairs, the government revealed that there were errors in its survey on missing foreign trainees.

The opposition camp accused the government of undermining Diet talks on the bill.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan submitted a motion to dismiss the Lower House committee’s chairman, Yasuhiro Hanashi of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, for not halting proceedings despite the revelation of the survey errors.

The motion is expected to be voted down at a plenary Lower House meeting Tuesday.

On Friday, the judicial committee was set to hear explanations on the bill by Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita and hold a question-and-answer session between the ruling bloc and the government.

The delay in the start of the parliamentary deliberations is likely to make it difficult to enact the bill by end of the ongoing extraordinary session on Dec. 10, the target set by the government, raising the possibility of the session being extended.

For the 2017 survey in question, the Justice Ministry interviewed foreign trainees who had left jobs without authorization but were later found.

Following the discovery of counting errors, the government revised the number of interviewed foreign trainees from 2,892 to 2,870, and the percentage of interviewees who said they fled trainee posts to seek higher wages was revised from 86.9 percent to 67.2 percent.

“We’ll carefully explain the errors during Diet deliberations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Friday, while reiterating the government’s hope for the bill’s enactment during the current session.