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Kobe gov't official's pay docked for repeatedly taking lunch 3 minutes early

51 Comments
By Martin Bureau

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If the clowns in Kobe are so keen on following the rules I take it they never object when people go home at precisely 5:15 pm, or whatever time their official working hours finish? To be consistent Kobe should also punish any employee who takes a smoking break during working hours. Perhaps they should also provide bottles so that employees can urinate at their desks instead of spending valuable working time in the toilet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, seriously? 3 x 26 = 78. If they must make an example of him, dock him 78 minutes, not half a day. Labour court anyone?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And still Japan has the lowest productivity among G-7 nations, must be from those early lunch orders...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All the best British companies I worked for all provided free lunches and separate eating places from the workspace. One private hospital I worked for, provided free breakfast, lunch and dinner. All at excellent standards. No need to bring sandwiches.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Work overtime, no pay. Go to the bento shop 3 mins early to avoid the crowds, pay.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

 To my old bosses, if you are reading this, once again, Thank you for harassing me. my boss didn't harass me but he was just a ahole in almost every way, it came to the point where I said do I want to work in this dead end job where hard work is hardly rewarded or do I get off my butt and do something about it. 10yrs later my olds boss business is stagnated , hes retired and its now run by his kids that have NFI what there doing , I now compete against him and have canvassed many of his clients (which I found ) because theyre tired of dealing with the moron. The look on his face when he saw me with one of them a fews years ago was priceless. LOL

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It ain’t pretty.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dumb & dumber...….what a waste, this is a very classic example of the utter lack of common sense that is far too prevalent here in Japan...….

Thank goodness I have never worked at such an anal retentive company.

Hell even back in my early days when I had to be there by 9, eat around noon & not leave before 1700-1800 at lunch time because of the absolute mayhem when the clock strikes 12noon & the people are off to the races to get a bento or a set at some restaurant that wanted you to flog some food & be gone in 15minutes MAX. where I worked we would often have 2-3 people hit the bento stands around 1130-1145 & come back with 10-15 bentos & then we would all be able to enjoy a nice hour break.....alas there are few places that do that, some but not nearly enough!

These ""bosses"" should all be docked a few months pay for gross & utter stupidity! But the sad sad things is that there is a very large portion of Japanese who agree with crap like this & that's partly why the decline...….continues

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Now i think only robots can satisfy Japanese workaholic culture

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Oh dear, world wide publicity showing Japan in a negative light again...,

What about events where public workers actually volunteer their time for various events?

The Water department has an open day, once a year,for the public where the workers give up their time for public service and it is UNPAID!

Also, during the Kobe earthquake many ordinary city workers found themselves moving the dead from place to place.

The bullying inflexible nature inherent in the workplace here saddens me.

Kobe City bosses need to learn to balance their rule based impulses a little more..,,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah you aren’t allow to do that. You must spend at least half your lunch break standing in line at the Bentou place. by commiting this horrific offense he was always first in line and didn’t have to wait with everyone else. Big no no in Japan that messes with the “wa”.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Covered heavily in newspapers around the world - another 'only in Japan' story that the rest of the world laugh at.

I actually misread this on another site and mistakenly thought the apology was for making such a big fuss about nothing and unfairly victimising the workers. But no, it was altogether apologise for the fact he slipped out a few minutes early.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I suppose it all comes down to whether the official came back 3 minutes early?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is probably one guy in every J office that makes it his life work to patrol such trifle infringements. Spreading bad vibes and misery wherever they go they have very little else that they can actually do. Rules are everything to these dull folks, and enforcing them seems the only real pleasure they get in life. Institutionalised and dangerous. If you have experience with these types it can have a lasting effect and a wonderful insight into how bad collectivism can really become when left unchecked. Has to be literally seen to be believed.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This fella needs to calculate all the times he started his lunch or finished work three minutes late and send them a bill. Japanese companies believe they own their employees and it’s a one-way street. If this government agency wants to be so strict he should make sure he does not stay at his desk for one second more than his allotted working hours.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I know people who work for a particular company ( and other companies) who are employed for 8 hours but have to be at work 10 minutes earlier to set up for the day without being paid for that time, and also to finish up 10 minutes after their 8 hours as well without pay. Even though they clock in and out they are not paid for the time. They also dock 10 minutes each for morning and afternoon tea breaks.

When I worked for a company in my home country, we used to be able to make a coffee whenever we wanted. Everyone much more relaxed and happy doing their work. In Japan it seems that even going to the toilet is frowned upon.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I hope the higher-ups reprimand the person/s who decided to reprimand and fine this poor man.

Maria, unfortunately the higher-ups already called the news conference to apologise for his extra 3 minutes. Not to apologise for his treatment. Welcome to Japan Inc.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

“The official was absent a total of 55 hours over six months, according to the city."

I think there is more to the story. 3 mins a day only adds up to 6 hours in 6 months”

That’s a different person, in that last part.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Slacker.  This is why public services in Japan are so laborious and consume so much tax funding.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Extremely petty, bullying behaviour. I hope the higher-ups reprimand the person/s who decided to reprimand and fine this poor man. What horrible treatment.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

My new vice-principal is such a stickler about working hours. He'll even insist on having a formal "Ending" time where everyone must be present before going home. But he doesn't seem to acknowledge the extra hour I or others show up to work beforehand. Or the extra 1-2 hours we sometimes stay after work. Or the extra time we sometimes spend working at our own homes

I would never work for Japanese bosses at a Japanese company. Foreign bosses at a Japanese company I can do. Unfortunately for the Japanese posters here they have no choice unless they are fluent in another language.

I see it in the packed trains in Tokyo at 8pm returning home and in the desperation to crush onto the first train in the mornings.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Common sense time - if you have a 64 year old working for a local government office, the chances are that he has worked for them for a long time. Surely any normal business would cut some slack to all the 64 year olds who have worked for them for years, and let them have their 3 minutes of bento buying time. There's more to this story than has been reported, because even Japanese corporations allow their 64 year old senpai to basically do what they want during the day.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The official, 64, had half a day's pay docked as punishment ..

64 and still working. Means that he officially "retired" once at 60 and is a contracted employee now.

This sounds more like a former underling, who is now his boss getting back at him for whatever.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It's just so damn silly sometimes. My new vice-principal is such a stickler about working hours. He'll even insist on having a formal "Ending" time where everyone must be present before going home. But he doesn't seem to acknowledge the extra hour I or others show up to work beforehand. Or the extra 1-2 hours we sometimes stay after work. Or the extra time we sometimes spend working at our own homes, etc. Japan needs to focus less on "working time" and more on "getting work done."

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Being one who also takes lunch a few minutes early I speculate he was trying to avoid the mindless rush to the elevators when everyone is required to take lunch at the same time, and also to avoid the line at the bento stand.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

So funny, so Japapanese

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What about the person who was wasting time by keeping tabs on him? Was he getting paid to do that?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

So what? I bet he's worked over his work hours many times. Utterly petty and ridiculous - you know the rest of the world shakes it's head iin disbelief at these stories. People are not robots.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The only time this leaving 3 minutes early situation might be a problem is if he's working the customer service window. But I've got a sneaky suspicion he doesn't. If he does, then he does need to be there till 12.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The worker was in violation of a public service law stating that officials have to concentrate on their jobs, according to the bureau.

Yep..because not staring at a computer screen with an open excel file pretending to work for the extra 3 minutes would make all the difference in the world to their office productivity.

"The official was absent a total of 55 hours over six months, according to the city."

I think there is more to the story. 3 mins a day only adds up to 6 hours in 6 months. I think this dude was calling in sick a lot or something and the city used the 'early lunch' as an excuse to repriman

Read the story properly- it says that was another offcial.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This is one of the strangest stories since living in Kobe. Strange to make such public announcements over a single employee starting his lunch break 3 minutes early, I think it actually 26 times over six months which would add up to 1.3 hours, not 55 hours stated in the post. He was also docked half a day pay.

One of his bases spotted him crossing the road to buy his lunch bento and get back to the office. They are allowed to leave the office once per hour to smoke.

Maybe what happened with Kobe Steel drove this extreme action.

When I lived in the UK one company deducted 30 minutes pay if one minute later in the morning or back again after lunch.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

If this guy were coming back from lunch 3 minutes early every day, I don't see that it would be a problem. Unfortunately the story doesn't enlighten us on that.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"The official was absent a total of 55 hours over six months, according to the city."

I think there is more to the story. 3 mins a day only adds up to 6 hours in 6 months. I think this dude was calling in sick a lot or something and the city used the 'early lunch' as an excuse to reprimand. They obviously want him gone.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Rules over efficiency. This poor worker's bosses are too empty-headed and lazy to evaluate if the employee is actually doing a good job, so they mindlessly hew to the rules to protect themselves from actually having to think. For them, following a schedule is more important than getting things done.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

theFu - exactly.

How many minutes, hours, days....unpaid overtime did the worker put in in his working life to date?

No one could ever convince me he left on the stroke of the clock every day.

Classic Kohai - Senpai bullying.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Black Sabaath

What does “belied by behavior” mean?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is ridiculous! I very much hope this guy has never ever arrived a few minutes early or stayed a bit late for those idiots.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

why wasn't he given a warning first? and if he was given a warning, why did he continue to do it knowing that some anally retentive boss was watching him?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This is why Japan needs FLEXtime. leave 10 minutes earlier or later, stay 10 minutes earlier or later. Its not friggin rocketscience.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Well done Kobe officials for wasting tax payer's money on something so anally retentive.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Have you ever walked into a city office in Japan, or anywhere, and thought, "I want to work here?"

Yet is there a profession in Japan that's more sought after by graduates. Stability is good, I get it, but for a soulless life of drudgery with bean-counting mandarins monitoring your every working moment.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Have you ever walked into a city office in Japan, or anywhere, and thought, "I want to work here?"

16 ( +17 / -1 )

This story has gone viral around the world and will serve to further dampen Japan's chances of attracting "elite" foreign workers.

all relics from a time that should be past.

But obviously not, sadly.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

The worker was in violation of a public service law stating that officials have to concentrate on their jobs

This is just bizzare.

"It's sheer madness. It's crazy. What about leaving your desk to smoke?" said one Twitter user.

"Is this a bad joke? Does this mean we cannot even go to the bathroom?" said another.

I'd like to hear the city officials' answer to this.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

theFu, been there, done that. The power harassment lead me to open my own company. I have even, at times, thanked my old bosses for all the BS they put me through. Thanks to them, I am now happy and free to climb mountains, tour on my bike and do so many other things. To my old bosses, if you are reading this, once again, Thank you for harassing me.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

This is a part of Japan most of us would actually like done away with.

That is an opinion, belied by the behavior of most Japanese.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

If my boss did that back when I was punching a clock, I'd never answer email or the phone after work hours again. I'd never stay late, once. I'd never work 15 min on a weekend even if it saved 10 hrs of weekday work.

Basically, I'd watch the clock to the second from that point forward, until I found a better job.

19 ( +21 / -2 )

Black Sabaath

This is a part of Japan most of us would actually like done away with.

I think that we can still be Japanese and do a good job and be civil without being bullied and or publicly shamed for nonsense. Japan also has its girl band members shaving their heads and fake crying into cameras if they break a rule, companies often ridicule and scold adults like they would a child...all relics from a time that should be past...not what makes Japan, Japan.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

As a former citizen of Kobe, I can attest to overall excellent level of its public servants. To what extent, if any, the stereotypical Japanese obsession with timeliness plays into making a competent, civil and dedicated work force I will leave to the specialists. Still, I have my opinion,namely, the obsession with the small picture, the value of the optics of a situation, the compulsive timeliness and the over concern with squeezing the very last bit of the ever diminishing return is what makes Japan Japan.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Nonsense, with all the problems that Japan's officials should be working to solve, they spend time their time worrying about this??

17 ( +18 / -1 )

That is sheer madness, probably some superviser has it in for the guy and using any petty excuse to nail him...

i understand if it was 30min or so.. but 3 min?

As a citizen I would be more angry they actually wasted public money and time to pursue this.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

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