PUBLIC FEEDBACK ON THE GOVERNMENT SERVICES
The following are excerpts from public letters on the government services that were published in Japanese newspapers. It is important that the government takes feedback such as this into careful considerations in order to provide better services to the public.
・More Empathy Required in Social Welfare Offices
A mother and child starved to death in Tokyo city. It is evident from the mother's diary that government officials in the neighborhood took no action to help them despite awareness of their desperate situation, which resulted in this tragedy. Of course one must respect a person's privacy, but privacy given as a reason for non-action in this case, sounds like nothing more than an excuse.
The private organization in which I am involved offers consultation to women. More problems could be solved, however, if the government itself strengthened its efforts to this effect. When a grandmother recently said that she wanted to enroll in a mother-and-child program, for example, her words, unfortunately were taken in an over simplistic manner at face value. It would have been better if the person she spoke to had listened carefully for any sign of distress behind these words. As it turned out, the woman was in fact suffering from extreme mental exhaustion brought on by dealing with a difficult grandchild and an abusive son. Unable to cope any longer, she felt it urgent to find a safe place where the grandchild could be well cared for Stating that she wished to join the program was, in fact, a desperate cry for help. In response to her plea, the public official merely replies, "as a grandmother, you are not eligible for the mother-and-child program".
All too often, social welfare offices push "problem cases", such as wives seeking protection from abusive husbands, from one counter to another. There have also been numerous complaints of foreigners being turned away.
The victims in this are always those in most need of help. Numerous people have died as a result of not being listened to as in the above tragic case.
・A Tribute to the Help of Government Officials
Last month I was sent on an investigative assignment to the remote and isolated island of A. Praise must go out to the local government official in charge who cooperated so fully to all our inquiries. Every question was always answered promptly and politely.
Early into the investigation, I received photocopy of a book that had gone out of print from him. It was material of tremendous value to my work. Out of gratitude, I sent him a small gift in return.
A few days later, I received more materials and some book vouchers, together with the following letter. "Thank you very much for your thoughtful gift. It is my duty as a government official to answer your queries as best I can. I don't mean to be impolite, but really, there is no need for a gift. If my work is appreciated, that, in itself, is for me the highest commendation."
His polite reproach to my hasty & careless behavior, and the book vouchers he probably bought in return for my gift, put me to great shame. In face of the recent spate of news on the corruption of senior bureaucrats, his letter has helped restore some faith and confidence for me in government officials today.