An inquiry panel has sternly criticized labor ministry officials for having knowingly used inappropriate survey methods to prepare labor statistics. It called their actions "unbelievable" and "outrageous."
The panel of outside lawyers and statistics experts submitted their final report on their investigation to Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Takumi Nemoto on Tuesday.
The ministry was supposed to cover all large businesses in Tokyo for its monthly statistics reports on wages and working hours, but was found to have surveyed only a fraction of them.
According to the report, the ministry had conducted surveys using improper methods since 2004 because many of the major businesses raised complaints about being surveyed every time.
An official who was a subsection chief in charge at the time said there was also a need to consider requests from the metropolitan and prefectural governments that conducted the surveys.
The report points out section-chief-level officials were aware that the faulty methods they used were inappropriate, but they continued to stick with the practice.
The panel says, however, it was unable to confirm an intention of a cover-up.
The panel says it is "an unbelievable fact and outrageous" for the ministry to violate the Statistics Act and continue improper methods for years. It urged the ministry to seriously reflect on the matter.
The labor ministry plans to impose punishments based on the report.