Earlier in the day, Tuesday, 28 August, The Japanese government issued an apology for routinely overstating the number of disabled people it employed to meet legal quotas in a scandal which it terms as “highly regrettable.”
According to reports coming in from Tokyo, they showed that Thousands of able-bodied employees at 27 government agencies and ministries were wrongly counted as disabled.”
Commenting on the matter, in a regular news conference, a government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, “We offer our profound apologies for something that should never have happened to the government, especially because it has a moral responsibility to secure and stabilize employment opportunities for disabled people.”
Suga then went on to announce that a working group led by the labor ministry will be formed to look into the matter of how the disabled employment figures were padded, he also urged regional authorities to do the same.
According to Katsunobu Kato, Health Minister of Japan, he said that thousands of people were falsely counted as having disabilities in the government figures. For instance, an individual with diabetes was counted towards the quota.
Once the figures were reviewed again, the ratio of government employees with disabilities saw a drop from 2.49 percent to 1.19 percent.
For the previous fiscal year, a hiring quota of at least 2.3 percent was set by Japan in its government ministries and a 2.0 percent quota for the private sector.
Mr. Kato told reporters, “We will try to make some arrangements to meet the legal requirement this year. However, if we don’t manage to do so, we would draft a plan to achieve the goal in the next year, as the law requires us to do.”
Mr. Kato further added, “We highly regret this situation.”
The Japan Council on Disability, which represents people with disabilities, have gone on to say that the scandal had instigated an immeasurable shockwave.
In a statement, the group went on to say, “This is an indication that somewhere down the line the government as a whole does not wish to hire disabled workers. This is clearly a discrimination against impaired people.”
Notably, earlier in the month, Internal affairs minister Seiko Noda, whose son has disabilities, informed reporters that officials at her ministry had confirmed manipulating data.
According to Ms. Noda, “Although I do not know the exact numbers, I was extremely surprised to hear that such a thing was happening.”
She further added, “Speaking solely as the mother of a disabled child, and not as the internal affairs minister, this is something that I cannot agree to.”
No doubt, This scandal which has come just two years before the country hosts the Summer Olympics and Paralympics is quite an embarrassment for Japan’s government.
Ahead of the upcoming games, the government has announced that it plans on improving access for people with disabilities while boosting their integration into the society.