National

Japanese panel proposes measures to strengthen protection of whistleblowers

Kyodo

A government panel in a report released Wednesday proposed measures to strengthen protection for whistleblowers from retaliatory actions by companies.

But the panel stopped short of recommending penalties for firms that take such punitive steps despite requests from some whistleblowers.

Its proposals include protective measures for employees and former employees while obliging companies to set up internal channels for reporting information.

The panel, set up by the Cabinet Office, also called on the government to implement administrative measures against companies and said that those that have taken retaliatory moves against whistleblowers despite being warned not to do so should be publicly outed.

The Cabinet Office will make these proposals to the Consumer Affairs Agency before a bill is submitted during the ordinary Diet session next year. The law on whistleblower protection came into effect in April 2006 and the government reviews it roughly every five years.

A number of misconduct cases involving businesses have recently come to light following reports by whistleblowers.

The recent case of ousted Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn and his close aide Greg Kelly for alleged financial misconduct resulted from an internal probe triggered by a whistleblower.

Former executives of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Inc. were also indicted on suspicion they bribed a Thai public servant over a power plant project after the company was alerted by a whistleblower.

The panel said firms with 300 or fewer employees would not be required to establish reporting channels but are urged to do so on their own.