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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 14, 2017 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 11 general and other measures, the promulgation of a treaty, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement concerning "emergency grant aid in response to famine disaster in the Middle East and Africa regions ."

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. I have a question regarding work style reform. On the basis of yesterday's labor-management meeting, it seems that an agreement will be reached that limits monthly overtime work to no more than 100 hours. What is the significance of this cap from the perspective of preventing the kind of long hours of work that leads to death from overwork?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, correcting long hours of work is the top priority of work style reform. In particular, we consider that labor and management need to agree on a specific number for maximum overtime hours. This was conveyed by the Prime Minister at the meeting of the Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform . This is an issue that has been deliberated by the Labor Policy Council of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare but on which a conclusion could not be reached. It is an enormous breakthrough that an agreement was able to be reached through a series of frank and open discussions between labor and management, which are strongly resolved to eliminate death from overwork. We believe this agreement represents a major reform of historical proportion in the 70-year history of the Labor Standards Law . Following this agreement, we will first seek to make a proposal at the next Council meeting that has the agreement of the government, labor, and management. Upon doing so, we will compile an effective action plan by the end of March and submit relevant legislation to the Diet as quickly as possible.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a related question. You stated that it was very much a breakthrough that this limit was able to be established. At the same time, it is said that there continues to be significant underreporting of overtime work as well as unpaid overtime work. What measures do you think are needed to prevent these loopholes going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, following the recent agreement, the Government will seek to make a proposal at the next Council meeting that has the agreement of the government, labor, and management. Upon doing so, we will compile an effective action plan by the end of March and submit relevant legislation to the Diet as quickly as possible. In addition, to ensure that the recent agreement will be effective, we will finalize the details of the scheme and take thorough steps to ensure the steady implementation of the agreement.

REPORTER: A related question. The families of employees who died of overwork, including the mother of Ms. Matsuri Takahashi who committed suicide because of overtime work at Dentsu, have voiced criticisms over the recent agreement. Some note that allowing 100 hours of overtime work-close to the amount of overtime work that is considered to have serious health consequences-is inconsistent with the goal of eliminating death from overwork. Does the Government view that the recent decision will prevent the recurrence of death from overwork?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes we do. Furthermore, while there are criticisms about the agreement legalizing overtime work up to 100 hours a month and proceeding with this kind of work style reform, we regard the criticisms as entirely untrue. As is stated in the labor-management agreement, the cap on overtime work is, indeed, 45 hours a month and 360 hours a year. Even in cases where a temporary increase in workload is inevitable, it is important that the extension of work hours is kept as short as possible. The labor-management agreement contains measures designed to prevent consequences including death from overwork, such as stating in the law that employers are obliged to make efforts to secure an interval of time between the end and start of a work day, considering new government targets for mental health measures, and reviewing measures at fora that involve members from labor and management aimed at the prevention of power harassment. In light of the recent agreement, the Government will not only take steps to limit work hours but also promote comprehensive measures to eliminate all deaths from overwork.

(Abridged)


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