The NHK reported today that a 28-year-old civil servant working in Hiratsuka City in Kanagawa Prefecture was suspended for 6 months without pay for publishing four light novel books, which earned him 3.2 million yen (US$28,000), while on sick leave from his full-time job, breaking the Local Public Service Act. Instead of taking the punishment, the man decided to quit.
In Japan, a civil service job is one of the most sought-after career paths, with only a few positions available per year for new graduates and a grueling exam process to even be considered. The career path is known to be highly stable with easy promotions based on years worked rather and seniority of age rather than merit, with all the details surrounding the job enshrined in the Local Public Service Act.
The Local Public Service Act doesn't allow government employees to have a separate part-time job, as it may interfere with their government job, but does allow civil servants to take up writing activities, including for payment. Issues arose when the 28-year-old in question was away from work on sick leave, which not only nets the man a salary from work to help him stay home and recover but doesn't allow him to take up any other paid work as he should be focusing on recovering.
Hiratsuka City was given an anonymous tip in June 2021 while the employee was on leave and started an investigation, finding that not only had he written four books, but also posted 256 stories on a net novel site, and promoted his books on Twitter over 10,000 times. Hiratsuka City suspended the man on October 20 for 6 months without pay for breaking the laws in the Local Public Service Act, but he opted to quit instead.
The employee, who was a manager where he worked, thought he didn't need to get permission to write the books as " there are many writers who write novels while working as civil servants." Hiratsuka City apologized for the man's actions, stating that "this is an extremely regrettable situation and we deeply apologize. We will do our best to restore trust and prevent this from happening again."
The Japanese press has not stated who the man is, nor what light novels he wrote.
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.