LAST_UPDATEFri, 20 Jul 2018 8pm

[Video] Bosses Of Japanese Bureau Apologise On TV Over Their Employee Leaving Three Minutes To Buy Lunch

Aside their loyalty and commitment to a company, the Japanese are always praised for their discipline and diligence when it comes to work. So much so, that when an employee left the office earlier to buy lunch, his company had to publicly apologise on his behalf.

Kobe City Waterworks Bureau in Osaka, Japan, reprimanded and fined their 64-year-old employee recently after he repeatedly left his desk during work hours for 26 times to buy lunch not more than three minutes, over the period of seven months (September 2017 and March 2018) – which totalled to 78 minutes.

He was one day spotted by a senior office worker as he was crossing the street to get a bento box in a nearby store for lunch.

“The lunch break is from noon to 1 pm. He left his desk before the break,” as spokesman from the company explained last week, adding that the employee had half a day’s pay cut for wasting the company’s time.

But the bosses of the company went further to hold a news conference to apologise on their employee’s behalf.

“It's immensely regrettable that such a scandal has happened, and we wish to express our sincere apologies,” one of the company’s spokesperson told reporters, while bowing deeply.

Reports claim the bureau also said the man was in violation of a public service law stating that employees have to “concentrate on their jobs.“

Nevertheless, their public apology only sparked backlash as netizens called the man’s punishment “absurd.“

“Are people not even allowed to go to the toilet now? This is like workplace slavery or something,” said a Twitter user.

“Is this a bad joke? Does this mean we cannot even go to the bathroom?” agreed one netizen.

“It’s sheer madness. It’s crazy. What about leaving your desk to smoke?” said another.

While another chimed in: “The punishment is totally absurd – 26 times over a six-month period means he only left the office once a week.”

This however is not the first case in the city as another employer was suspended in February for a month when he was similarly caught buying lunch during work hours.

A recent survey reveals nearly a quarter of Japanese companies have employees working more than 80 hours overtime a month, often unpaid, and 12 per cent have employees breaking the 100 hours a month mark.

And while employees are entitled to 20 days leave a year, about 35 per cent don't apply leave at all.

Japan is also known for a number of high-profile cases of “karoshi”, or “death by overwork”, and the government was forced to act on the issue following a public outcry over an employee of advertising firm Dentsu who jumped to her death after reportedly being forced to work 100 hours of overtime a month.