Japan misreported wage growth for 7 years, probe shows

Shinzo Abe. File photo: Wikipedia Commons

Jan. 25 (UPI) — Criticism of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is growing in Japan following allegations of data manipulation that may have taken place at Tokyo’s labor ministry.

Japanese lawmakers said Thursday manipulated labor statistics on the country’s working population were used to further the aims of Abe’s economic policies, commonly referred to as Abenomics, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Friday.

In response to recent revelations, on Wednesday the labor ministry revised its monthly labor survey for the period from 2012 to 2018. Investigations into the data have revealed the Japanese government embellished numbers, overstating nominal year-on-year wage increases by as much as 0.7 percentage points from January to November of last year, the Nikkei reported.

Abe was elected in 2012.

The government has been championing the prime minister’s economic policies and has previously claimed the wage growth rate reached a 21-year-high.

But a 3.3 percent reported growth rate in June 2018, was revised down to 2.8 percent, following government investigations. The 2.8 percent figure has subsequently been revised by Tokyo’s ministry of internal affairs and communication to 1.4 percent.

Opposition party lawmakers condemned the misreporting of data.

Kazunori Yamanoi said the recalculations indicate Japan experienced negative wage growth in 2018 after the the corrections. Others said ordinary Japanese had been struggling with low wages as the Abe administration reported a 21-year-high in wage growth.

Troubles may have begun when the labor ministry began to change their data collection method.

The ministry reportedly did not alert the internal affairs ministry after it switched from surveying all firms with 500 or more workers, to limiting the survey exclusively to firms in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Investigations may still be ongoing.

Jiji Press reported Thursday the internal affairs ministry detected “irregularities” in 22 of Japan’s 56 primary sets of statistics.

The reports come at a time when Abe is promoting his policies on the international stage.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Abe said “defeatism about Japan is now defeated” while referring to “upbeat statistics” on growth, the Financial Times reported.


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