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57% opposed to expansion of scope of discretionary work scheme, Mainichi poll

The nationwide survey conducted by Mainichi Shimbun on Feb. 24–25 asked pollees for their views on the discretionary work system, which allows companies to pay wages according to a predetermined number of hours regardless of the actual number of hours worked. Some 57% of pollees said they are opposed to expanding the types of work subject to the scheme, easily outdistancing the 18% who said they are in favor of enlarging the scope. To rectify long work hours, the government is considering capping overtime work at 45 hours a month while allowing up to 100 hours a month as an exception [i.e., during peak periods]. Some 33% said that the government is proposing appropriate caps, and 33% said the government should set lower caps. Meanwhile, 13% said the government should set higher caps.


The government will submit to the current Diet session a work-style reform bill that will include the expansion of the types of work subject to the discretionary work system and regulations on overtime hours. In responses to interpellations in the Diet, however, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and others have cited data that make an inappropriate comparison of the work hours of workers on discretionary labor contracts and the work hours of those on conventional contracts. This has become a problem in the Diet, and the cabinet decision on the bill has been delayed. Even among cabinet supporters, 46% are opposed to expanding the types of work subject to the discretionary work system while 29% are in favor.


Nobuhisa Sagawa, who was director-general of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau at the time of the sale of state-owned land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, said in response to Diet interpellations that “all records related to the sale negotiations had been discarded.” Administrative documents related to the sale have been found, however. Sagawa is now commissioner of the National Tax Agency. Some 68% of respondents said that they find it unacceptable as a taxpayer for Sagawa to be serving in this new capacity. Only 14% thought it was acceptable.


Some 44% said that “it would be good if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were replaced” as Liberal Democratic Party president in the party’s presidential election to be held this September, exceeding the 41% who said that “it would be good if Abe served another term.”


From the perspective of national security, the Japanese government has expressed its approval of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, America’s guidelines for its nuclear strategy. The NPR states that America will develop “low-yield” nuclear warheads. Some 58% say that they find the Japanese government’s approval unacceptable, easily exceeding the 22% who think it is acceptable.


The support rate for the Abe cabinet was 45%, up 1 percentage point from the previous month, while the nonsupport rate was 32%, down 6 points.


[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted by pollsters over the two-day period of Feb. 24–25, 2018, targeting landline and mobile telephone numbers across the nation on a computer-aided random digit sampling (RDS) basis. The survey excluded landline numbers in municipalities designated as “difficult-to-return” zones due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Valid responses were received from 464 persons (out of the 755 households with one or more persons age 18 or over) for landline numbers and 570 persons (out of the 742 persons age 18 or over who answered) for mobile numbers. The valid response rates were 61% for landline numbers and 77% for mobile numbers.]



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