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national

Hyogo gov't worker leaves water running for a month; forced to pay half ¥6 mil bill

44 Comments
By SoraNews24

A Hyogo Prefectural Office worker has been ordered to pay three million yen for leaving the water running at his workplace for about a month.

It all started in October of 2019 when a government office building in Kobe was undergoing its annual inspection. A contractor was handling the inspection of a storage tank capable of holding 15 tons of water for use in the building, and was being assisted by the employee in question.

When the contractor was finished, the employee told him, “I’ll handle the rest,” and let him take off early. However, he didn’t quite handle everything and forgot to close the drain in the storage tank. As a result, rather than storing water it simply provided a brief rest stop for tons upon tons of free flowing water.

The mistake wasn’t noticed until a month later when the building’s water bill was roughly six million yen higher than usual. An investigation followed and linked the employee with the open drain, so the prefecture filed a lawsuit against him.

Since the employee explicitly said he would “handle the rest,” the court found that his responsibility in the matter was significant and ordered that he pay half of the excess bill, which he did at the end of last year.

The issue didn’t come to light until Feb 8, when Hyogo Governor Toshizo Ido held a press conference. “I would like to apologize to the citizens of the prefecture,” said Ido, “for the damage caused by one of our employees’ mistake.”

While it seemed the matter had been settled for the governor, many online felt that justice hadn’t been served by forcing a single person to bear such a heavy cost on his own. Others, however, agreed with the ruling.

“I do this kind of work too, and you have to be extremely careful. Still, employees should never be forced to pay out of their own pocket like that.”

“If this is the case, shouldn’t all the police and judges who falsely convict someone be forced to serve half of the victims’ time in prison?”

“Couldn’t they just dock his salary?”

“It’s a government building, so if he doesn’t pay then all the residents have to pay for his mistake.”

“At least he was able to keep his job.”

“I think the saddest part of all this is that water is so expensive.”

“Wait, wait, wait. Why wasn’t he given any indemnity?”

“A worker’s liability is limited by law. They should know that.”

Laws limiting the amount of money an individual can be responsible for repaying do exist in Japan. However, in cases where gross negligence is displayed, those laws go right out the window. Unfortunately, by letting the contractor leave, the employee was skipping a crucial double-check which allowed the mistake to occur and thus committed gross negligence in the eyes of the court.

Source: The Sankei News, Hachima Kiko

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© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

44 Comments
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Poor guy made a simple mistake at work, he was probably tired and overworked anyway. Contractor should of reminded him what still needed to be done

Then he gets tried and convicted by random do-gooders on the internet and loses income for his family.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Wow....seems a bit excessive for what is likely human error.

Using this logic can we hold Abe accountable for 46.6 billion Yen (or half of that bill) for the money which was squandered on those stupid masks?

30 ( +30 / -0 )

It was an accident! A careless accident, but still an accident. From reading the headline I though it was deliberate. He shouldn’t have to pay.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Water should be free.

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

If an error like this could happen, it was a systemic error. It’s pathetic putting it upon the worker, unless they were able to show professional negligence.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

@ SandyBeach

Nothing is free in life

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Happened to me sort of. A tap at my business started leaking over the weekend. Cost me ¥33000. My water insurance didn’t cover it as they said maintenance was my responsibility.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Strangerland

It’s pathetic putting it upon the worker,

I fully agree with this. From what I have read this is clearly unintentional. On the other hand Abe intentionally squandered 46.6 Billion yen however there are no repurcussoins for deliberate action producing something that no one uses nor ever will. I do not know a single person who has used one of those.

The Hyogo government (who enable the great money wasting scheme which is now the Kobe Airport) can afford to "eat" this one and tell the employee to not let it happen again...

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Poor worker. A very costly mistake. But a very harsh penalty in my opinion.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Water in our Hyogo location is expensive, but it was wrong to expect the worker to pay ¥3 million. Probably equal to one year's pay for him.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Water costs in Kobe are limited to a set amount but become expensive once a certain number of liters are exceeded-this guy should have been more careful and his order to pay seems reasonable.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

My water insurance didn’t cover it as they said maintenance was my responsibility

Out of interest how do you “maintain” a tap? One can “fix” a tap if be knows it to a faulty.

I would have disputed this.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I can understand the court’s reasoning for this: in dismissing the contractors, the guy completely disobeyed SOP. That is gross misconduct, and, had I been his boss, I would have fired him too!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Why would there not be insurance cover for this?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

alongfortheride - I was thinking just the same.

There is no doubt the workers negligence caused the incident. Incidents occur all the time in the workplace esp in Industry. Workers have responsibilities, but in the real world mistakes happen.

That's why insurance exists.

And this being a govt worker - does this set a precedent as alluded to by others?

Can we the public expect the trillions lost by inept decisions cast by politicians (govt workers) to be repaid out of pocket?

I hope so.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I wouldn't want to pay but I would. He said he would handle the rest and he failed. There are steps in place for this type of inspection and it says the contractor was finished so the rest must be up to the worker and he accepted responsibility. His own words are what makes him responsible. I feel for the guy though.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Taxpayers money should not be used for such a stupid mistake for many months. I wonder why he did not check the storage tank at least once later. The mistake is completely official neglect.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why would there not be insurance cover for this?

Because the worker went off on a frolic of his own; that is to say his conduct amounted to negligence rather than a simple mistake.

Do your think your insurance company will pay out if you purposely get drunk then drive and crash your car?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I left all my taps trickling for about a week during a recent cold snap. I usually spend 900 yen a month on water. This month's bill was 4000 yen. Still much cheaper than the repairs for a burst pipe!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They probably said you can pay 1/2 or you’re fired?

I would have fought like hell to not pay it. How could a person afford that kind of money?!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Water should be free.

why even on my property I have all the ground water ill ever need, but Ive still got to pay for the electricity to pump it from the bore

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That sucks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When the contractor was finished, the employee told him, “I’ll handle the rest,” and let him take off early. However, he didn’t quite handle everything and forgot to close the drain in the storage tank. 

It seems like an honest mistake, not malice, so I think a punishment seems fair, but this amout is unreasable.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

When I first came to Japan I lived in the hills above Kyoto. Water flowed out of a tap from a stream further uphill. I was told never to turn it off or it would silt up. Free, and free flowing!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

When I first came to Japan I lived in the hills above Kyoto. Water flowed out of a tap from a stream further uphill. I was told never to turn it off or it would silt up. Free, and free flowing!

These tapped springs are all around Japan. Very useful in Tohoku after the 2011 disaster when people had fears of nuclear fallout. Delicious and clean deep spring water.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In many countries, this would be handled by insurance. This was just some water. What about the employee who makes a mistake that does millions in damage, beyond what he could possibly afford?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why would there not be insurance cover for this?

Because insurance in Japan isn't worth squat, it's a ripoff.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Too behind times.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He must have felt a right drip but it’s all water under the bridge, no need to faucet.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As I noted before, mistakes happen often in industry. Many years ago while working for a premium winery a worker neglected to connect a pump hose completely while moving wine from tank to tank. 10,000 litres was lost literally down the drain. While the worker was hauled over the coals, the idea that somehow he'd have to pay out of his own pocket would have been unfathomable. And yes insurance covered that.

Again - if this act of negligence by a govt worker can be penalized in this manner - then we as taxpayers have every right to demand all govt workers including politicians, must recompense the coffers for bad / wrongful / neglectful decisions made that costs the community.

But this articles story appears to be a classic top down power trip - underlings beware.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hung out to dry, did he do it on purpose? No, simple mistake that the government made since the employee works for them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you are liable for doing your job and make a mistake, you are not being paid enough and trained enough, just get an other job and let the stress go. What is worth trying only to be penalised?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Water flowed out of a tap from a stream further uphill. I was told never to turn it off or it would silt up. Free, and free flowing!

And an apt description of your intestines if you were ever foolish enough to drink it!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Many years ago while working for a premium winery a worker neglected to connect a pump hose completely while moving wine from tank to tank. 10,000 litres was lost literally down the drain.

That may have been an oversight on the part of the worker. The chap in the article is being punished for his negligence in dismissing the contractors, not for simply leaving the tap flowing.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

6 million yen?

That doesn't sound right.

Water in Japan is roughly 200 yen per cubic meter, so in the worst case scenario, this employee had apparently wasted 30,000 cubic meters (¥6,000,000 / ¥200) of water or 1,000 cubic meter per day, which is roughly 41,000 liters per hour.

That's way too much water for a 15 tons tank and there's no valve that I know of, capable of draining 41,000 liters per hour, besides, someone would have noticed the river coming out of the building.

Unless the price structure has some overcharges for excessive usage, this doesn't sound right.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@SandyBeachHeaven

Water should be free.

No it should not !

Clean Water is a limited resource, & as such should be regarded as a valuable commodity.

I guarantee, There will be wars fought in the future over water.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Ouch, but at least he kept his job. He was at fault but is it better to pay some money and keep your job or be held responsible for the loss and be fired for negligence?

By the way why does the tap in the picture above need three valves on one outlet?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why do water and electricity cost 10x the amount they do in other countries here? Why are electricity charges pegged to the size of a building, instead of charging users per kilowatt hour? Why are there monthly hookup charges when the provider incurs no cost for them? Why is there no way to measure water returned to the system from homes and buildings to offset the cost, when recycled water is being resold?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As far as I understand it, dam water is divided up and sold to surrounding cities in advance at an assessed rate, whether they want that much or not. This cost is passed on to companies and individuals, which explains why water is so expensive.

Pleas that you sometimes see for water conservation above the faucets is usually nothing to do with the environment, but simply an appeal for cost awareness.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Charging people for mistakes made at work, only in Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

SandyBeachHaven: "Water should be free."

No, and that attitude is why so many in the world have no access to the resource people like yourself take for granted. It should be free for the poor people who have no running water, given to them by the rich nations with access to it. They say something like your average household here wastes SO MUCH water (not just here, but in many nations) that in one week in an average household the amount of water wasted would be enough for your average Indian family for ONE YEAR. I shiver when I think of the sheer, utter waste -- probably could have been the water for an entire nation somewhere, for a year. He should have had to pay the entire 6 million.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Smith, a tad over the top don’t you think? While I agree we should be aware of the real cost of water and the fact that we enjoy easy access to safe water, over stating the case will just put people off rather than engage and enlighten them.

Of course some of the problem is down to corrupt politicians and self serving governments in the affected countries and an unwillingness of the people to get off there arses and help them selves. This poor guy f***ed up, not exactly a crime against humanity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Poor guy! Trying to go above and beyong to let someone else go home early makes a mistake that didnt hurt anyone and has to fork out his his hard earned money to appease some nobodies. Love to see that same rattional used on politicians and executives. Like the saying goes " No good deed goes unpunished!" Refund him for the sake of decency.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It wasn’t a criminal act, he should have been indemnified by his employer. Certainly he was responsible and deserved disciplinary action, possibly even the sack. But, everyone makes mistakes. If employees are required to provide their own PL insurance, employers must be prepared to pay considerably more for labour. Or expect jobs with any level of civil liability to be treated like a poisoned chalice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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