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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 9 - 15  > Gov’t employee union criticizes Meteorological Agency’s plan to place ads on its website
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2020 September 9 - 15 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov’t employee union criticizes Meteorological Agency’s plan to place ads on its website

September 12, 2020
The Meteorological Agency has come under fire from its labor union for its plan to place ads on its official website. The union represents workers at the agency and other departments in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism under the umbrella of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren).

The agency’s website, with 7.9-billion-page views annually, offers weather forecasts and alerts as well as other information concerning natural disasters including earthquakes, volcanic activities, and tsunami alerts which pose threats to people’s safety. There is increasing concern that if the website carries ads, this will cause various problems, such as taking more time to load, becoming less easy to be seen in its entirety, and causing inappropriate pop-ups. The agency intends to start having its website display ads in mid-September and explains that this measure aims to obtain outside finance that will cover the costs of maintaining the website.

In the first place, some think it ethically controversial for the Meteorological Agency to make money with the use of its website providing disaster-related information.

The labor union last month released a statement opposing the ad revenue plan. The statement points out that website advertisements are inappropriate for the Meteorological Agency’s website which gives information to the general public to help them protect their lives and properties from natural disasters. It stresses that the cost of the website should be fully financed by the government and the ad placement plan should be cancelled.

Miyazaki Takaaki, vice chair of the union, said that the placement of ads could make it difficult for viewers to obtain information smoothly from the agency’s home page when necessary, for example, in the event of natural emergencies. He claimed that if the agency needs additional funds to operate the website, it should request for an increase in budget allocation. Miyazaki said that the introduction of ad banners is highly problematic.

The Meteorological Agency has provided weather data it collected for free. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party, however, intends to introduce the beneficiary pays principle and charge fees for the use of the data.

Miyazaki said, “The agency’s data is public property. The introduction of the beneficiary pays principle could lead to more financial burdens for end users and is totally unacceptable as it will affect the agency’s role of ensuring people’s safety.”
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