Japan's labor minister has pledged to find out why his ministry kept releasing improper job statistics that apparently led to underpayment of benefits to millions of people.
At a news conference on Friday, Takumi Nemoto offered deep apologies for causing trouble to the public over the ministry's release of statistics compiled through improper methods for years. The data in question cover corporate salaries and working hours surveyed monthly.
Although the surveys are supposed to cover all major businesses with payrolls of at least 500 people, they covered only one third of such firms in Tokyo.
The faulty data led to underpayment of unemployment benefits and workers' accident compensation.
Nemoto said an audit team including lawyers will continue its probe into why the problem occurred, and that he will consider punishment depending on the findings.
He denied a suggestion by reporters that the ministry's failure to disclose the problem for many years amounts to systematic concealment.
Nemoto said he hopes to fulfill his responsibility by overseeing a thorough investigation, compiling measures to prevent recurrence, and paying proper benefits to all affected people.