Panel proposes no raise in minimum wages

The Central Minimum Wage Council, an advisory panel to the Health, Labor, and Welfare minister, on July 26 submitted a report proposing no raise in regional minimum wages. This is the first such proposal made by the Council since it was established in 1978 to improve conditions for low wage workers.

The minimum wage is the lowest wage that the central government allows employers to pay all workers. Wages lower than this are illegal, even if workers agree to them.

Worker members in the Council called for a raise in minimum wages to cope with increasing number of part-time workers. Employer members opposed, alleging that the economic crisis doesn't allow any raise.

The report did not just propose a zero increase in the minimum wage but went further to suggest the need to rethink the system of proposing increases in regional minimum wages.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) on July 26 published a statement of protest against the Council report. The statement criticized the report for trying to peg the minimum wage to lower levels. It said that the minimum wage should be substantially increased and gaps between regions be narrowed, and that the issue be discussed in regional council meetings. (end)