Photo/Illutration The National Diet building, seen in the background, and other government offices in central Tokyo (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The business community and other parties pushing for working style reform mounted a petition drive to improve the notorious working practices of bureaucrats, saying they are impacting the public’s lives as well.

The groups are calling on government ministries and agencies to switch off between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and allow their personnel to work remotely when they have urgent tasks.

Organizers of the online petition drive in the platform say bureaucrats’ long working hours have had a negative impact on the lifestyle of the public and are urging the government to devote the funds saved by cutting bureaucrats’ overtime hours on measures against the novel coronavirus.

Among the 19 organizers are Yoshie Komuro, president of Work Life Balance Co., which provides work style reform consultation services, Yoshihisa Aono, president of Cybozu Inc., and Makiko Nakamuro, a professor of economics of education at Keio University in Tokyo.

In June and July, Work Life Balance surveyed bureaucrats involved in the government’s response to the health crisis. Of 480 who responded, about 40 percent said they worked “more than 100 hours” of overtime in the busiest monthly period between March and May.

The survey also found that 83 percent of those who work for Diet members said they are required to meet the lawmakers in person, while 86 percent said they are obliged to exchange documents with the Diet members by fax.

The organizers warn that such outdated working environments can result in talented bureaucrats’ leaving their jobs and hamper government efforts to promote digitization policies.

They vowed to submit the petition to Taro Kono, state minister in charge of administrative reform, and other ministers in late November.