Bureaucrats Still Working Long Hours Preparing Draft Answers to Parliamentary Questions

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Diet Building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

Bureaucrats are still burning the midnight oil preparing draft answers for questions posed in the Diet, according to a survey by the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs, which examined their working hours during the last extraordinary Diet session.

According to the survey, which covered central government ministries and agencies during the extraordinary Diet session that ran from Nov. 13 to Dec. 13, the average time that bureaucrats finished preparing all draft answers to parliamentary questions that members of the ruling and opposition parties had submitted to the government in advance was 1:31 a.m. on the day the question session was to be held.

The government has been trying to rectify the long working hours of bureaucrats. However, according to the results of the survey released Tuesday, not much improvement had been made since last year’s ordinary Diet session during which bureaucrats prepared answers until 1:42 a.m. on average on the day the question session was to be held.

The average time they took to prepare the draft answers was seven hours and five minutes, the latest survey showed.

About 2.5% of the questions were submitted to the government by lawmakers after 6 p.m. on the day before the session.

“I would like to request Diet members to submit questions at an early stage,” digital minister Taro Kono, who is in charge of the national civil service system, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Questions covered by the survey included those from the budget committee meetings for both the House of Representatives and House of Councillors as well as committees of which ministries and agencies were in charge.