Fukuoka mayor imposes 1-month alcohol ban for public servants

FUKUOKA —

Fukuoka Mayor Soichiro Takashima has banned all public servants from consuming alcohol outside their homes for one month.

The unusual move was announced at an emergency meeting on Monday and is said to be the result of a series of scandals involving city employees, Fuji TV reports.

A 52-year-old port and harbor bureau official was arrested for assaulting a taxi driver on May 18. It was also reported that a 48-year-old official from the child care division was arrested last week for assaulting a former colleague. Both incidents are believed to have been alcohol-related.

At the meeting on Monday, Takashima told department managers that he hoped the shock of the announcement would make employees more aware of the seriousness of recent incidents and of their responsibility to their communities, Fuji TV reported.

Legal experts say the mayor’s request is exceptional partly because no law exists to enforce a drinking ban on city employees, meaning public servants cannot legally be disciplined or fired for ignoring the ban. However, the city is said to be “strictly enforcing” its no-alcohol policy.

Japan Today

  • 5

    HarryHillLover

    haha - I wonder how that will go down among the rank and file. A one month ban is not going to do it really because - guess what - the prats that get messy when they drink will be free to do so from this time next month. And the 99% of people who drink responsibly will continue to do so. I have no idea what this particular action means or is trying to portray.

  • -10

    some14some

    extend this ban to all prefectures except tohoku region !

  • 1

    sillygirl

    what the heck is one month going to do. just reduce the scandals for one month - or there may be more in store for those at home heaven forbid.

  • 18

    Herve Nmn L'Eisa

    Perhaps it would be more effective to ban all politicians from breathing instead.

  • 2

    rickyvee

    i guess he's following in the footsteps of hashimoto.

  • 3

    Alphaape

    The mayor needs to look over at Sasebo and see how such blanket policies like this really don't work. When the Navy puts the "drinking light out" what you have happen is guys who will binge drink prior to curfew, or go where the Shore Patrol is not.

    I know these public servants don't have SP looking over them, but what's to say that they can't get liquored up at home and then go out and cause trouble? The best way to handle this is individual responsiblity. You drink, and cause a ruckus, you get fired. Pretty soon the word will get out that people can loose their jobs for certain behaviors and you will see a decrease in those behaviors.

  • 8

    Thomas Anderson

    Is this even legal? You can't enforce something that they do in their private lives. Sure you can fire them, but what they do in private is their own business.

    What an idiotic move. Why don't they just fire those who are violent alcoholics?

  • 6

    iceshoecream

    Absurd.

    Both incidents are believed to have been alcohol-related.

    Not really no. Don't blame the alcohol.

  • 4

    HollisBrown

    What's betting that Fukuoka Mayor Soichiro Takashima gets caught on camera drinking alcohol in public within the next 30 days

  • 4

    ExportExpert

    Cannot make rules like this, if they drink they cant be fired legally or punished it is petty and meaningless the mayor has no jurisdiction over what the people do in their private time, absolutely absurd & ridiculous for the mayor to even try this. But i guees the wa will kick in and no one will want to rock the boat.

  • 6

    hoserfella

    another small example to those who believe Japan is a democratic country complete with human rights, or even those who will fight for them.

  • 0

    zichi

    I would ignore this if it was me. That are they going to do, test everyone when they arrive for work? But it's not unique. I read some American companies ban their employee's from drinking and drugs and are subject to random testing?

  • 2

    cactusJack

    So if they do drink in public the penalty is.....yeah, I didn't think so.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    "Legal experts say the mayor’s request is exceptional partly because no law exists to enforce a drinking ban on city employees, meaning public servants cannot legally be disciplined or fired for ignoring the ban."

    Ah, good old Japan! make up something that can never be legally enforced. What's going to happen if a public servant goes and drinking and is caught? Since it's not a law and cannot be enforced, taking any measures to punish the man/woman at work would be strictly illegal.

    Civil servants should all gather for an enkai to celebrate the new 'law'. :)

  • 1

    patty cake champion

    This is tacky and wasn't worth the effort.

  • 1

    tmarie

    How about firing public servants that assault others? Charge, let the courts deal with them and if it comes to jail time, bye bye job. That easy. Why punish them all for a few idiots? Also, what right do they have to impose such a thing for people during their FREE time?? Would not fly back home - and nor should it.

  • 5

    showmethemoney

    Collective punishment. Idiotic.

    He cannot legally fire anyone for violating his little tyrant's decree. But he can make life at work hard, promote ostracization, and make up some other reason to fire people.

    Replace the moron, ASAP.

  • -2

    OMGhontoni

    I think reading between the lines here it is the spirit of the thing that is important (no pun intended!) rather than the actual adherence to the rule. I think the mayor is simply trying to draw attention to the problem of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour. Obviously no one can be fired for breaking the rule, but coming from a place where antisocial behaviour has reached epidemic proportions now, I cant help but think kudos to the mayor for actually trying to do something to draw attention to the issue.

  • -4

    basroil

    Only in Japan... They should have followed the US structure a bit more. At least there they have the legal framework for mayoral tyranny

  • 0

    tmarie

    Keep in mind that a few years ago, one public servant in Fukuoka drove drunk and killed three people. it isn't like this is the first time they've had problems with staff drinking.

    And places CAN fire you for doing illegal things. It is well know that for pretty much ALL of the car companies here that if they are caught drunk driving, they are fired. No questions asked. Toyota and Honda (I believe) has been known to follow through on this which is why none of them drive drink (maybe a few do but no where near the average public numbers).

  • -1

    SquidBert

    -I swear Mayor! -I didn't drink a drop, I abshorbed it all through oz oz .. oshmoshis , I tell you.

  • 1

    gurudaimon

    man Japanese Politicans are getting dumber by the day

  • 7

    Balefire

    tmarie, that's quite true, but it's the company firing for illegal behavior. Merely drinking outside of your home, and neither assaulting someone nor driving, is perfectly legal and the mayor has no more right to prohibit it than a company would to prohibit it.

  • 1

    Tom DeMicke

    Almost as bad as U.S. military personnel in Japan not permitted to consume alcohol during certain hours. They are also government employees of the U.S. Wow...hope this doesn't follow suit in Okinawa.

  • -4

    tmarie

    Merely drinking outside of your home, and neither assaulting someone nor driving, is perfectly legal and the mayor has no more right to prohibit it than a company would to prohibit it.

    If you read my first post, you'd see that I said pretty much exactly the same thing!

  • 0

    showmethemoney

    It will be interesting to see what happens to the employees whose primary stress relief is alcohol. If one of them goes postal, will the mayor stand up to take credit?

  • -1

    Alphaape

    Merely drinking outside of your home, and neither assaulting someone nor driving, is perfectly legal and the mayor has no more right to prohibit it than a company would to prohibit it.

    I wish this were true. But now you are seeing some companies denying health insurance to people who smoke. They claim it helps them to keep health insurance costs down by keeping a healthier work force. I would imagine that the mayor would try to use this sort of logic with the city workers.

    Next I bet he institutes a policy of all city workers taking prolong leave at one time so that no one will have to cover for another who is absent from work. Wait, they have that called already called "Golden Week."

  • 0

    602miko

    ban the alcohol lol

  • 2

    Maria Maronati

    As if this would do something for human stupidity.

  • -2

    Pukey2

    Next, female civil servants will have to slap on more make-up or risk being put in a burqa. This Hashimoto disease is spreading.

  • 0

    presto345

    Now what is it, impose or request?

  • 0

    almostshat

    Seig Heil Mein Fuhrer

  • 0

    Frungy

    Power harassment, pure and simple. This mayor has effectively shot himself in the foot. Next time anyone is turned down for promotion they'll maintain that it is an illegal sanction for some drinking they did during this period and the mayor will be in court.

    Idiotic move. Rule 1 of management, never give an order that you can't enforce. A simple request for a show of solidarity to restore public confidence in civil servants would have been the right way to go.

    Sheesh, I should be giving leadership courses to these idiots.

  • 0

    Ivan Coughanoffalot

    However, the city is said to be “strictly enforcing” its no-alcohol policy

    In what way? I'd venture in the same way those buildings with no security guards put up a poster with a picture of a security guard looking as tough as a cartoon man can look with saucer eyes, beneath which is the legend "Keeping Strict Watch".

    Once again, the ritualisation of words trumps any form of action. And the sad thing about it is you can bet your boots the majority of people under this buffoonish edict will follow the instruction without question. Or at least put on a pantomime of doing so.

    Rather than giving this ludicrous martinet the mooning he's so vividly asking for.

  • 2

    Fadamor

    No laws in place to enforce it or to discipline those who ignore the ban. This is mostly a newsbite-type of ban with no real "teeth" to it. I guess the hope is that the ban will more or less be complied with voluntarily. This begs the question of how you could be "strictly enforcing" the no-alcohol policy?

  • 3

    kaminarioyaji

    I live in Fukuoka, and they've been passing/enforcing some rather ridiculous things down here recently... Since late last year, there has been enforcement of a wartime enacted law that bans dancing in clubs after 1.30am; apparently the dance floor is cleared at 1.30, and tables & chairs are put out. Now we have this...

    Here's a thought - how about the local government & constabulary concentrate its efforts on reducing all the drink driving and "Warui Mana-" here seeing as Fukuoka is always top (bottom?) of any ranking of traffic related crime, and let's also add that Fukuoka has the highest national incidence of Yakuza related violent crime. Quite how the Chief of police can have this on his watch year in, year out without dying of shame & embarrassment, nor actually tackling these problems, is beyond me; but hey, this is the japanese way.

    Priorities are all wrong.

  • 2

    whiskeysour

    WHEN PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS DRINK - THEY DRINK THE PLACE DRYYYYYYYYYYY !!!!!

    I love going out with them, they will pay for everything !!! " I got it I got it I got it " I try not to argue with them l !!!!! I TRY NOT TO INSULT THE HOST. It's impolite.

    Some of the gentlemen I hanged out with like to venture in the Burgandy Light District !!!! Just like the TLC song, " R L S " Yeahhhhhhh !!!!!!!!

  • 0

    noriyosan73

    Is it true that a private company can dismiss an employee who has a second, part-time job to pay the bills? Yes, and this story is just another example of the existence of "slavery" in the common sense. The "boss" has no business telling any employee what he or she can do during off-duty time UNLESS it is a matter of national security, i.e. US Secret Security behavior.

  • 0

    Saul Schimek

    Anyone ever notice that in the US and Japan, government 'crats of all sorts seem to think they have the ability to stick thier noses into your private lives?

    Perhaps a paring down of the Political and governmental classes is in order...

    Ignore or fire this cretin. But make sure he can't actually enforce his silliness

  • 3

    Erik Lars

    The mayor must have been drunk when he came up with that idea.

  • 0

    RowanM

    Wow I don't get why you guys are making such a big deal. The mayor knows that he can't enforce this. The employees know he can't enforce this. THAT'S NOT THE POINT. Just like when other governments pass non-binding resolutions. They do it all the time in the US, for example.

  • 0

    jonobugs

    This ban is ridiculous and should be treated as such. What people do on their time off is their business as long as it doesn't directly affect the company that they work for.

    I think that if anyone is caught doing illegal activities (outside of work), they should be punished accordingly but if it doesn't affect their job performance (ie. no days absent, no bad publicity) then it shouldn't matter. If their actions DO affect their job or company, then the company should be free to deal with the matter that befits the employee's actions.

    This ban is like a parent grounding all their children because one child played hooky.

  • 0

    tmarie

    But now you are seeing some companies denying health insurance to people who smoke. They claim it helps them to keep health insurance costs down by keeping a healthier work force.

    I see nothing wrong with this at all.

    I live in Fukuoka, and they've been passing/enforcing some rather ridiculous things down here recently... Since late last year, there has been enforcement of a wartime enacted law that bans dancing in clubs after 1.30am; apparently the dance floor is cleared at 1.30, and tables & chairs are put out. Now we have this...

    Osaka (surprise, surprise!) are going through the same thing and many clubs have been shut down as Hashimoto's office won't offer the correct license. Footloose anyone?

    Perhaps if the cops charged people for assault instead the old "offer up some money" this wouldn't be an issue? Perhaps if Japan addressed its drinking problem and number of problem drinkers, the mayor wouldn't think he can infringe of the private lives of citizens.

    I don't have an issue with "no part-time jobs" IF that was made clear from the get go. No drinking? Clearly no one signed up for that when they agreed to this line of work.

  • 0

    davejenks

    Rough House Hooligans just had to go and Jack -up my Nomikai.

  • 2

    blackpassenger

    oh, japan and its fuzzy logic

  • 1

    proxy

    It will be interesting to see what happens to productivity. Public servants are legendary drinkers, izakaya are full of them. Fewer late nights out drinking and they will finally get some work done.

  • 1

    realist

    Alcohol abuse is a way of life in Japan, and a big part of Japanese culture. It needs to be controlled, but not by a jackboot dictator mayor who imagines he has more power than he actually has. Why doesn't he simply fire the people wo caused these scandals?

  • 1

    gelendestrasse

    Banning a thing has never solved the problem. It just changes to a different problem.

  • -6

    donburi

    Good for the mayor - he's just trying to make a point, knowing that it's mostly unenforceable. But obviously drinking is a huge problem in Japan. Holding drunks accountable including firing is a better idea as some posters have said. For the posters who think it's a total ban - it's not. The public servants are still free to drink to their hearts content at home.

  • 3

    Yubaru

    Free to drink to their hearts content at home.....Now watch domestic violence issues pop up like crazy in Fukuoka.

    The mayor can make all the statements he wants but I would love to see how he is going to enforce it. He's been watching too many magic shows on TV and thinks that by just snapping his fingers CHANGE will somehow occur.

    PUBLIC SERVANTS get fired for doing illegal acts, like drunk driving, teachers, JIETAI, any of them. But this new "rule" is BS at best, and people out side of Fukuoka have to be thinking one of two things, this guys a nutcase, or I pray to God that Hashimoto or Ishihara dont do the same thing here!

  • 0

    KariHaruka

    Shame I don't work there for them. I would tell them where to go. I'm sorry but out of work hours the employer doesn't have the right to dictate what the employee does.

  • 0

    ka_chan

    Maybe this won't be a good time to get anything done with city hall. Wonder if tickets will increase? Happy workers.. guess not in Fukuoka. Don't think the restaurants or bars will be happy either.
    Enforcing an none existent regulation. And I guess we can expect to see an increase in domestic violence?

  • 0

    Thomas Anderson

    This Hashimoto disease is spreading.

    It's ridiculous... mayors in Japan seem to be mistaking that they're dictators, and not mayors...

  • -1

    tmarie

    he's just trying to make a point, knowing that it's mostly unenforceable. So then he's actually not making a point.

    I wonder if this includes JETs...

  • 2

    Rogerrabbitt

    Just another example of how J government try to control the population, even if it is at local level.

  • 0

    Debucho

    Most rules in Japan are not enforceable by law. workers here can go home at 6pm if they want. However I think these incidents have nothing to do with alcohol and more to do with egos and ignorance.

  • 2

    ebisen

    Idiot mayor thinking of an idiot rule for his idiotic employees who can't handle the drink... We are not in the freaking kindergarten any more...

  • 0

    GenConsensus

    It only takes a few bad apples to ruin the party for everyone...

  • -1

    JapanGal

    I toast to the mayor. Bottoms up! What a winner!

  • 2

    lucabrasi

    Seems to me that this is turning into a p*ssing contest between the mayors of Fukuoka and Osaka: one trying to ban drinking, the other to ban tattoos.

    A pair of jumped up little tosspots

  • 0

    Dennis Bauer

    @proxy next news item Fukuoka Izakaya owners complain of sudden lack of customers :p

  • 1

    lucabrasi

    @Dennis

    No kidding. I watched the local news last night and the Fukuoka Federation of Yatai, Izakaya and Bar Owners had already sent a delegation to City Hall, demanding that he reconsider. I'm serious!

  • 0

    Balefire

    If you read my first post, you'd see that I said pretty much exactly the same thing!

    tmarie, I did, and even gave you a thumb up for it. I probably misunderstood the part in the later post where you mentioned "if they are caught drunk driving" to mean "by the company", when presumably you meant "by the police". If so, I apologize.

    In every employment contract I've signed with a Japanese company, there was a clause giving "violation of laws"--or very similar wording--as a cause for immediate dismissal. So you're quite correct about a DUI arrest being very likely to get you fired.

    As for car companies specifically, a Scottish colleague of mine was hit by a young woman employed by one of the major car companies many years ago. He was in the wrong, crossing against a light. He wasn't injured very seriously, just a glancing blow, some bruising.

    She may have been going too fast; she hit him while he was in a crosswalk, but the police didn't charge her. My friend told the cops at the time that it was entirely his fault. He said the same when representatives of her company visited with melons and apologies.

    However, her company was intending to fire her, anyway, just because she was working for the car company, driving--of course--one of their cars. The fact that she'd hit a foreigner seemed to have made it worse, somehow.

    I think she would have had a good case for wrongful dismissal, but I doubt that she would have sued them.

    It took quite a lot of persuasion from my colleague to convince them to take no disciplinary action against her, including, if memory serves, some intervention from one of our bosses, sort of a company-to-company thing.

    Had she been charged with anything, there's no doubt she would have been fired, regardless. Had she been drinking, she would have been doomed, career-wise, very likely black-listed in the car industry.

    So doing illegal stuff will, indeed, get you fired, most likely, in many if not most companies. The same is true for many/most government jobs.

    That doesn't mean, though, that they have a right to prohibit their emploees from doing perfectly legal activities such as drinking outside their homes (or wearing tattoos, for that matter).

    It appears that we agree on this.

  • -1

    tmarie

    NO worries Bale - just wanted to let you know I agreed with you1

    The problem here is, and I just made the same comment on the Hashimoto thread is, you can't fire people here who are FT workers. She might have been a crappy worker and this was their chance to get rid of her - why else would they jump to get rid of her? If the rules here were changed, I think the productivity of this country would improve. As it is, no one wants to hire FT staff these days as they are too much of a liability - crappy education, spoiled brats, don't actually work... So instead, companies hiring dispatch. I don't blame them. Why anyone who has assaulted someone hasn't been charged it beyond me - more so when he gets paid from tax money.

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