• Jiji


A lack of information-sharing among senior officials and the excessive workloads of the employees involved were behind a scandal at the infrastructure ministry involving tampering with data related to construction orders, an investigation committee said in a report Friday.

In the report, the committee, composed chiefly of lawyers, called on the ministry to launch measures aimed at improving personnel distribution, promoting the acquisition of expertise by relevant personnel and clarifying ways to deal with problems when they occur, as part of preventive efforts.

“We want the government to take measures to prevent any recurrence in order to restore confidence in government statistics,” said Kazumine Terawaki, head of the committee and former superintending prosecutor at the Osaka High Public Prosecutor’s Office.

After receiving the report, infrastructure minister Tetsuo Saito said, “We take the matter seriously and will make the utmost efforts to restore confidence in government statistics.” He suggested that the ministry will make efforts to restore correct past data and prevent similar problems from happening, while taking disciplinary measures against staff that were involved.

In the scandal, which came to light in December last year, prefectural government officials rewrote data on construction orders for many years at the instruction of the ministry. The order data is one of the core statistics used in the calculation of Japan’s gross domestic product.

The construction order statistics were found to have been overstated in April 2013 and later due to the rewriting.

The report cited the lack of information-sharing among senior ministry officials as one reason why the situation was left unattended. It concluded that the ministry failed to disclose the scandal in a bid to evade responsibility.

With the public losing confidence in government statistics due to the scandal, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ordered the ministry last month to set up the investigation committee in order to uncover the cause of the problem by mid-January.

The committee, which included former prosecutors as members, held its first meeting late last month and has conducted interviews with a succession of infrastructure ministry officials who handled the statistics.

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