Economic superpower faked stats for years

The Japanese government has tampered with official statistics for years, the country’s prime minister has admitted. It’s a blow to the credibility of data that investors rely on and brings into question Japan’s claimed GDP.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed on Wednesday allegations made by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that for years, the government overstated the value of some construction orders received from building companies.

The newspaper reported that the infrastructure ministry instructed local government officials to inflate construction contract figures for the past eight years, a possibly illegal act that may have distorted key economic statistics of the world’s third largest economy.

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The Asahi Shimbun cites several ministry sources as saying that about 10,000 reports were rewritten every year.

It is regrettable that such a thing has happened,” said the prime minister, promising to examine what steps could be taken to avoid such an incident from happening again.

The government has announced it will set up a third-party committee to investigate the misreporting of the data and present the findings within a month.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, total construction contracts in 2020 reached 79.598 trillion yen ($700 billion).

The scandal has led to some opposition lawmakers questioning the validity of the government’s economic policy, as the rewritten data is used to estimate Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Economy Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, however, downplayed the concerns, saying any impact on GDP data was likely to be small.

Doubts about government statistics were raised in Japan before, when a flaw was discovered in the health ministry’s wage data in 2018.

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