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Japan probes claim ministries cheated on disabled hiring quota

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[TOKYO] Japan is investigating claims that ministries routinely overstated the number of disabled people on their staff to meet a legal quota, an official said Wednesday.

The investigation began after local media reported last week that the land and internal affairs ministries had padded their data on the hiring of disabled employees.

The problem may be far broader however, with additional reports emerging this week of similar cheating at other ministries and local governments.

Last fiscal year, Japan set a quota for the number of disabled employees in government ministries of at least 2.3 per cent, with a quota of 2.0 per cent for the private sector.

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Last year, ministries reported that 2.49 per cent of their staff were people with disabilities, but the alleged padding may mean the government is in violation of the law.

Public broadcaster NHK reported Wednesday that ministries last June said they had 6,000 people with disabilities on staff.

But more than 1,000 of those employees were not in fact disabled, the station said, citing government sources.

Private broadcaster TV Asahi put the figure even higher, at around 2,000.

The Jiji Press agency reported similar manipulation by several local governments.

Internal affairs minister Seiko Noda told reporters earlier this week that officials at her ministry had confirmed manipulating data on its disabled employees.

"I was extremely shocked to hear that such a thing was happening, even though I don't know the exact number," said Ms Noda, whose son is disabled.

"Speaking as the mother of a disabled child, not as the internal affairs minister, this is something I cannot allow," she said.

AFP