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POLITICS

75% say reinvestigation is needed to resolve discretionary labor data issue, Nikkei poll

  • February 26, 2018
  • , Nikkei , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

In the telephone-based public opinion poll jointly conducted by Nikkei Inc. [and TV Tokyo on Feb. 23–25], some 42% said they are opposed to expanding the number of fields the “discretionary work system” covers. Some 30% said they are in favor of expanding the types of work subject to the system. The discretionary work system allows companies to pay wages according to a predetermined number of hours regardless of the actual number of hours worked. The system is part of the work-style reform bill that the government plans to submit to the Diet during the current Diet session.

 

The data in the initial survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) was found to be flawed. A plurality of 75% of respondents said “it is necessary for the MHLW to reinvestigate” [the actual state of work hours of workers on discretionary labor contracts]. The government has admitted there are flaws in the MHLW survey and has made an official apology, but 66% say that the government’s explanation to date is unsatisfactory, while only 14% said it is sufficient.

 

Among cabinet supporters, those in favor of expanding the application of the discretionary labor system exceeded those opposed, 42% to 32%. In contrast, some 62% of cabinet nonsupporters said they are opposed to the expansion, and among all pollees those opposed exceeded those in favor.

 

Asked about the submission of the work-style reform bill to this Diet session, 32% of pollees said that “the government should remove the sections on the discretionary work system from the bill and submit it to the Diet,” making this the most frequently given response. Meanwhile, 25% said “the government should submit the bill to the Diet as planned” and 24% said “the government should hold off on submitting the bill.” Cabinet supporters were split between “removing the sections on the discretionary work system from the bill and submitting it” (38%) and “submitting the bill to the Diet as planned” (36%). The government has designated the work-style reform bill as the most important bill to be submitted to the current Diet session.

 

The MHLW is considering delaying the implementation of the expanded application of the “discretionary work system” by one year from the original schedule. Some 49% of pollees said they are in favor of this, exceeding the 31% who said they are opposed.

 

[The survey was conducted on Feb. 23–25 by Nikkei Research Inc. via random-digit dialing (RDD) to both landlines and mobile phones. It drew 972 responses from men and women aged 18 and older nationwide, for a response rate of 45.7%.]

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