It is customary in Japan for employers to pay transportation fees for their workers. Don’t tell anyone, but it is equally customary for workers to use this system to scam their oppressors, with the most popular method being to lie about one’s route (e.g.: Claim to take the expensive JR but in fact commute by a cheap private railway. Combine this with the 50% children’s discount for maximum damage). Now, it seems like even local governments are in on the act:
(4/19/05) The Ministry of Internal Affairs announced the results of a special survey on April 19 thats finds 274 municipalities in 31 prefectures are paying commuting benefits to city workers who walk to their jobs. National public servants do not receive such stipends for walking to work, and must commute at least more than 2km one way if they do use some mode of transportation. 244 of the municipalities were paying benefits to people living within 2km of their workplace as well (WTF alert: but 30 weren’t?!).
The Ministry stated, “We demand that the payment of local public servants conforms to the standards of their national counterparts, and paying commuting benefits for people who walk is improper,” seeking speedy review from local governments.
The survey results are current as of Jan. 1 of this year, and were taken after the “hospitality” scandals (fraudulent overtime etc.) among Osaka’s public servants. Aichi Prefecture was the worst, with 38 municipalities. Fukuoka followed with 28, and Saitaima was 3rd with 23. As a whole, there were most in Western Japan, and there were no such incidents found in Hokkaido or the Tohoku (Northeast) region.
The highest monthly benefit payment (for workers living within 2km of their workplaces) was in Hekinan, Aichi, with 5750 yen. Most payments were 1000-4000 yen, and the smallest was Kitakyushu city with 100 yen per month.
In Hekinan, workers received commuting benefits on 8 levels based on distance without regard to mode of transportation, with workers living within 1km receiving 4950 yen per month and those within 2km receiving 5750 yen. Only 14 people actually walk to work in Hekinan, with most employees electing to drive (as of April 1). The city explained, “We based our system on our surrounding areas and the way we’ve done things up to now,” but in response to the criticism has reduced its payments to 2500 yen for workers within 1km and 5000 yen for those within 2km.