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Does Japan have too many public employees?

The major political parties are competing with each other in calling for a reduction in the number of public employees. Both the Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party demand that the number of public employees be cut by 20 percent while the Your Party is calling for a cut in the workforce of 100,000. Does Japan really have too many public workers as they claim?

No, it does not: this country only has 31.6 public employees per 1,000 people, the lowest among major countries. The number is 86.6 in France, 77.5 in the United States, 77.2 in the United Kingdom, and 54.3 in Germany.

Due to the steady cuts in the number of civil servants under the former LDP-Komei government, many public offices crucial for citizens' livelihoods are facing staff shortages.

For instance, the number of teachers and staff at Japanese public schools is 85.3 per 1,000 students. Elementary and junior high schools need to have 360,000 more teachers and staff in order to meet the EU standards (125 per 1,000 students).

The number of firefighters is 50,000 less than the guideline set by the government. The 3,000 labor standard inspectors would have to spend 3.7 years to inspect all business offices if each of them were to visit one office a day.

Meanwhile, the number of non-regular public workers in national and local governments has sharply increased to nearly 700,000.

The Japanese Communist Party demands that the government increase the number of staff responsible for public services essential to citizens' livelihoods and improve non-regular public servants' working conditions, and calls for a ban on "Amakudari", the bureaucratic practice of retired officials gaining executive positions in corporations. It also calls for the full restoration of public employees' right to strike and other basic labor rights.

- Akahata, July 7, 2010


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