〈中部経済新聞 「中経論壇」平成26年８月12日掲載 池田桂子 〉
A Few Problems in The Whistleblower System
Since a Chinese manufacturing and processing company, located in Shanghai-city had shipped processed food to some Japanese companies with expired out of a safe expiration date chicken. An H1N1 variant (H1N1v) influenza virus spread to the Japanese companies.
It came as quite a surprise that such an occurrence had happened in despite the Shanghai authorities entering and conducting examinations over seven times over the past 3 years. In addition this year that same company had been recognized and honored as a factory with a high safety reputation. Some employees were seen picking up chicken meat that had dropped on the floor and the same meat was then processed too make the processed food products. It had been rumored that Chinese media crews infiltrated the processing plant as employees and found that as well as other violations of public health safety issues which lead to serious accusations and breach of trust. This will certainly result in serious legal issues.
I can only speculate that they did not expect their actions be observed and caught on camera. That is a regrettable situation. However in Japan, many companies, regardless of the field of industry they are involved in or the size of the company in order to promote compliance, the management of those businesses, have established an internal reporting system. We can often see the transparency of those streamlined companies.
On the assumption that there may be acts perpetrated which are illegal, and which are unauthorized, as well as against the business ethics of companies, it is not necessarily the responsibility of companies to install a window dedicated to accept the internal reporting, but for their employees to perhaps do the reporting, and with Whistleblower Protection it has become a relationship where the law that prohibits any disadvantageous, or negative treatment leveled at an employee making a report. This encourages and makes reporting easier to make a report of wrong doing.
However, even in the Whistleblower Protection Act in addition, even in internal reporting system of a company, looking at the circumstances, it is not without challenges.
First, in the Whistleblower Protection system, there are provisions on the protection of whistle-blowers, but there is no code of conduct of the employer when the report has been made. This needs to be examined, as such and encouragement of a reporting system and obligation of the employer be instituted.
For example a Hot Line, which can be an internal, reporting system of a company that may also be called internally as a help line, in such a case it may become very confusing to the caller. What is a “Reportable Fact”? It also is said with regard to issue such as criminal acts or crimes as defined in the law related to the protection of life, and the physical wellbeing of individuals, profits, advocacy of consumers, environmental protection, and fair competition, there will be those cases that simply are not clear cut,
and may not initially make sense.
Internal reporting should be encouraged but such admissions or as a witness to wrong doing must provide that information to a third party which is also required. If an employee is not accustomed to being a “Whistleblower”, (and fears they may subject to disciplinary action) workers are not protected which is a concern to the employee to decide whether or not to make a report.
We can see the same precedent in the case of disciplinary actions which happened in the Osaka City Hall cleaning division, and also a litigation case of dismissal of an invalid order filed against Olympus Corporation by an employee transferred with an invalid order was claimed as an incident, and other adverse dispositions have been made by in reporting issues.
The type of caller, ① former employees, those from ② management, they have a use to act as a tool to control strife and factional in-house fighting, which may be due to workers ③ group within companies. There was also an incident reporting system of group companies in their internal functioning, where there was actual embezzlement caused by a section chief and a subsidiary president was found as a result of “Whistle Blowing”. It will probably be an advantage of the group and as such particularly beneficial.
<Keiko Ikeda published August 12, 2014 Chubu Keizai Newspaper “Chu-kei Rondan”>